Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Goodbye My Darling

Most parents go through the empty nest syndrome when their children go off to college. Carol and I get to suffer through this twice.

As many of you know our daughter Amanda has been working for us at Arizona Weed King, Inc. for a number of years now. She has been an indispensable part of our team. She handles most all the homeowners that call in for service and I am here to tell you nobody has ever done it better. We have always remarked with amazement that a family as close as the three of us can work together. Much of this is due to her and her Mother's temperament. In other words - putting up with me.

Today is her last day. After the first of the year she enters a full time apprenticeship to complete her Masters in Counseling. Her Mother and I could not be prouder. We have watched her grab this dream with the tenacity of a bulldog. She has studied long and hard, and I mean hard. She has friends that academics come easily to. Not Amanda. She earns every piece of knowledge, fighting and kicking and biting it off one morsel at a time. She is smarter than most of us. One of those natural smarts that simply understands the way of things. This makes her smarter than most academics and 95% of the world.

So, you can see this is a bittersweet day. Weed King will go on a little less than it was because of her absence, but she will go on to storm the world and grab her future in a headlock and she will grow and grow and grow.

Good luck my darling, and may God speed.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

The Last Christmas Tree

After the sun was down and the crowds were gone

After the lights in the parking lot were down to a faint glow

and the string of lights around the fenced in area in the parking lot,

the fenced in area where all the sweet smelling trees had stood

the fenced in area that had been brimming with life and excitement with

children hiding among the trees

and fathers shaking the trees out for mothers to see

so she could choose

the string of lights were now just an after thought and the trees were gone

with pine needles littering the asphalt

as tiny reminders that the trees had given everything

and were now in homes decorated with lights and tinsel

with gaily wrapped presents supporting the lower branches and

the needles just days away from being brown and dry and discarded

in the fenced in area in the parking lot with the lights softly glowing

there is one small, sparse tree in the corner

leaned there by a forgetful attendant

one last tree




softly sad into the night waiting for the dump truck of the morning

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Merry Christmas you've just won the lottery!

I know everyone has speculated on what they would do if they won the lottery. A new house, or new car. A trip around the world. I was listening to a story of our time on NPR today and it made me start thinking again about the have and the have nots. And, not just the have and have nots but also about so many Americans that have but just not enough.

I listened to a story about a couple in another state who are suffering what many people are suffering this Christmas. He lost his job in the construction business and had to take another job in another state thus distancing himself from his wife and two children. One about to enter college - if he can - and the girl a sophomore in high school. The problem is that the house they bought as an investment toward their retirement is now worth $150,000 less than what they bought it for. Because of the cut in pay and the extra expense of living apart this couple - while making two incomes - simply can't afford the mortgage. They stand up to their initial commitment and won't just walk away from their debt. The house has been on the market for a long time with not one person interested. The girl is so distraught over Dad being gone that she burst into tears whenever the reporter tried to talk to her. The boy isn't sure about whether he can afford college. The savings are gone, there are no Christmas presents this year and they have disconnected the phone and TV. The mother says she just prays for this time to pass and for the time they can be a family again. She says that time is precious now that next year the son will be leaving the nest.

You hear this story and wonder what you would do for these folks if you could. I'm sure ultra rich people give lots to charity. But what about these kind of Americans that are not seeking charity or a free ride. They just need a little help.

I wish I'd won the lottery today.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Oh Christmas tree Oh Christmas tree, wherefore art thou?

All I can say is WOW! Me and millions of Americans, and for that matter, billions across the world have been suffering the worst economic times since my Mother was fifteen years old. Small businesses have especially been hit. Mortgage companies and real estate companies have disappeared. The car manufacturers have had to be on the public dole to survive, and the gap between the rich and the poor has become evermore wide.

And I have watched all this up close and personal but I have never seen what I saw today. Carol and I went out to buy our Christmas tree (I'm old fashioned and refuse to buy a fake tree, I don't care the economics - fake smells like fake) and since the Home Depot is just a half mile from our office off we go on our lunch hour full of the Christmas spirit.

They had four trees. Four. At least they looked suspiciously like trees. The kid on the lot said he hoped they'd get another shipment. Off we went to the other Home Depot (they've had really good prices the last couple of years). We didn't even have to get out of the car. Their tree corral had two raggedy trees leaning against the fence. Home Depot, no trees.
We had seen a tree lot on Seventh Street and Thunderbird Road. Off we go, The Christmas spirit diminishing. Before we reached the lot two under insured beaters pulled in front of me causing me to have to brake suddenly. The Christmas spirit took another hit. At the lot they had a few trees. Not a lot but some. And boy were they proud of them. $10 a foot. $80 for a decent tree. Thanks but I'd spent all my Christmas spirit driving over.

No trees. Usually I'm the guy like Charlie Brown that on Christmas eve feels sorry for all the trees that didn't get a home. This year I won't have to worry. No trees. Thank you God for letting me make it through this year.

Oh, we finally took a poor ragged Douglas fir that was left over at Fry's. It has a home.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Are Men Just Crazy or What?

If you are a man and you stand back and be objective - hard to do - sometimes you just have to marvel at how our internal emotional machinery works. I have no doubt in my mind that not one, not one single wife out there really understands why ten of us guys are giddy with the prospect of driving fifty miles out into the cold harsh desert, miles from no where, set up a camp where we are almost guaranteed of freezing and chase little quail through the desert. Up and down through hill and dale.

My friend Charlie wondered if the recent rain would scatter the birds away from their natural water sources. I looked at him in wonder. "Charlie," I said, "do you really think we're going out there to hunt?"

Witness the last few days. e-mails flying back and forth. Phone calls, then another and another. Who is bringing what? Do we deep fry the turkey on Thursday night or Friday night. Is one turkey big enough for ten guys. How much Velveeta is needed to feed ten guys Carol's special goulash? Who's got lunch. Charlie wonders how much bacon is needed. Brent says he's got all the paper plates etc. Jim's bringing lunch up Thursday. And on it goes.

We're like kids in a candy store. Ain't men nuts?

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Winter Wonderland

Over the weekend Carol and I joined Charlie Bennett - his wife Cynthia stayed behind to care for her ailing mother - at his cabin in the mountains above Prescott. Ostensibly we went to help him get the cabin ready for the winter - but is was really a get outa Dodge moment. Saturday night we traveled down into town to the town square to watch the lighting of the Christmas tree they do there annually. It's been a long time since I lived in a small town and I'd forgotten the small town magic there is at Christmas. There were hundreds and hundreds of people gathered on the courthouse grounds. Whole families with their lawn chairs and blankets and Thermos's of hot toddy's. Grandma sitting with her stocking cap and legs tucked in by hand made quilts sipping a steaming cup of something while the grand kids ran around absolutely pumped with the holiday electricity in the air.

The choirs of the local high school and middle school gathered on the steps and sang traditional Christmas carols as a narrator told the Christmas story. No political correctness here, just good solid small town values. It was obvious that this was a yearly tradition for many of the people gathered there and I overheard many more than one person on their cellphones trying to connect with friends and family at the base of the giant statue of the Rough Rider. "I'm on the left side of the statue!" not realizing that left is a relative term and the frustrated friend was probably on the other side.

At the proper moment in the Christmas story the switch was thrown and the entire square was lit with Christmas lights. The crowd cheered and everyone with cell phones and cameras were clicking as fast as they could.

The atmosphere was a joyful one and one that I haven't experienced for years. One of the problems of living in the big city. Not that you can't gather with a crowd but this was different. This was several hundred friends and family gathering in the chilled darkness and connected together to celebrate the birth of Christ. There was a palpable sense of goodwill and peace in that moment. Maybe for some of us that feeling would wear off later, but in that moment and in that place hundreds of us were drawn together as one with that full feeling you get around your heart when you experience the story that would change the world.

After the festivities we went a couple blocks down Cortez street to a delightful place called the American Jazz Cafe. I had, what was billed as "the bad boy" which was a stuffed pork chop the likes I have never seen before. To say it was wonderful is a gross understatement. To top it off there was a very good jazz quartet playing with a very good girl singer.

When we returned to Phoenix is was raining. This was the culmination of a (except for missing Cindy) very wonderful weekend. If I wasn't in the holiday spirit before I certainly am now.

Prescott for the tree lighting. I recommend it for anyone. Prescott has lots of motel space. Make the weekend of it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tiger Woods affair with Sarah Palin

Okay, now with that heading I know I have more readers to my blog than ever before. I don't know if those two have ever met but dang that makes a good tabloid headline.

I don't know what it is about us humans but there is something in the genetic makeup that makes us acutely interested in other peoples business. Long before cable TV and the Internet house wives were talking over the back fence and men were gathering around the water cooler to discuss the latest gossip.

Here's my opinion; it's none of my business! But, I can't help but read about it anyway. I guess I'm a looky loo. If there's a wreck beside the highway I have to look. I do feel sorry for Tiger's family but I really feel sorry for that poor couple - the Salahi's - that crashed the White House party. Now there's a couple that really wants some tabloid attention. They would die to get the world wide publicity that Tiger is getting now. Reality TV stars. Boy, would they also like this attention. But, nobody gives a damn if they are having an affair. They could probably fornicate in Times Square and no one would stop. New Yorkers are notorious for stepping over such goings on and continuing on with their lives. I think reality TV stars are expected to provide salacious events. Tiger on the other hand has never sought salacious attention. I don't think he has sought anything except to be the best golfer in the world, maybe in history. His achievements have brought all this attention, but again, I don't think he's ever sought it.

Well, maybe Sarah can take some notes on how to sell a few more books. Poor Tiger, I think he's suffered enough, don't you? Hey, don't forget to check out Blabbingaboutblogs for some of the most interesting blogs out there!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Big Rip Off

Here's one of life's lessons for you young folks. I'm living proof that we are all ripe fodder for rip off artists.

Last week I got a call from John King to say that the bearings on one of the wheels on our big Weed King trailer had burned out and he was disabled by the side of the road. John is very resourceful and with that and luck he got it back to our yard where we keep the trucks. He talked to a clerk at Arizona Safety House and was reccommended a place in Glendale on Montebello called Arizona Axle Products. He called and they said that if he could get it to them they'd look at it. John got it there and told them what we needed repaired. They said it would be around $300. They called back later and told us all the dire other things that were wrong with the trailer, intimating that if we didn't repair that stuff also the trailer would surely crash and burn. John told them to give us a price on the other stuff before doing anything.

When John didn't hear from them he called back and they informed him they were finishing up and the total price would be $900. The justification was that it "needed to be done". I went with John to pick the trailer up and the owner of the shop did not care that he had done unauthorized work. I offered to pay for the initial $300 worth of work and for all the parts from the other work but felt I wasn't responsible for the labor on work that wasn't authorized. The man wouldn't budge. Now at this point the trailer was hooked to our truck and we could have easily turned and drove away. But, it was the wrong thing to do so I didn't do it. Instead, I paid the jerk with a credit card. I did this because I knew you can call the credit card company and dispute a charge and that is exactly what I did. It is in process and I'll let you know the outcome.

Now here is the kicker. We drove the trailer back and within two miles of leaving Arizona Axle Products the trailer starting squealing. By the time we got the five miles to the yard the new hub that cost the $300 was so hot you couldn't touch it. We had another trailer repair place send out a guy and he spent an hour and a half adjusting everything the other guys had done. They had slapped the hardware on but didn't calibrate any of it. He said the reason the one hub was so hot was because out of the four electric brakes on the trailer it was the only one stopping it. So we not only got ripped off but with shoddy work to boot.

So, what's the lesson learned. First don't pay cash. You won't get it back. Second, I suppose you cannot emphasize enough that you will only pay for authorized work. The attitude of the vendor that the work "needed to be done" doesn't justify doing unauthorized work. Just because I need a haircut doesn't mean the Steve the Barber can start cutting without my permission. Sometimes recommendations don't do the trick. Better to get recommendations from people you know.

So even old dogs get tricked sometimes.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's a Jackson patio thing

Most of the friends Amanda grew up with remember hanging out on the Jackson patio. Over the years it has seen innumerable parties - birthdays, holidays, party days - and on Thanksgiving it was activated again. Carol and I have never really had family in town that we got together with on Thanksgiving but our house always seems full. This year we had our good neighbors the Murpheys, Pastor Bruce Johnson and wife Laurie with daughters Shelly and Megan. Our friend MaryEllen and her Mom Martha and our good friend Carol Reeve. Of course we had Amanda and Lance. It was great sharing Thanksgiving with such good friends. Then at night we were joined by a host of other friends that had enjoyed their own Thanksgiving meal and were joining us for dessert. Blake and Allison and Fischer came along with Charlie and Cynthia Bennett and their big guy Bryan. We had Joe and Terri White along with Brent and Dianne Robinson, Glenn and Jamie Suppanz with Glen's visiting brother Mark. All in all a good fun group of friends.
I'm blessed to be surrounded by people of musical talent. All of the Robinson's including Glenn. Of course Amanda sings like a dream and Lance is an excellent drummer and guitar player. Blake is very good and Brent wails on the harmonica. So before long the instruments came out and the patio was rocking. Just another sign that the world is passing me by - Blake had a cell phone that he looked up lyrics with. Here is a picture of Amanda and him singing the Johnny Cash - June Carter Cash hit "Jackson". Amanda is reading the words off this phone. Wow! Do I feel old fashioned. Then a pic of Brent wailing out on the harp accompanied by Lance on guitar. All we were missing was a Mother-Daughter duet by Dianne and Jamie. Maybe next time.

Man, this is what I call fun!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

That noise you heard

That big crunching noise you heard this week is me falling with a resounding thud off my low carb diet. I'm a weak man, I admit it. Just the thought of it being Thanksgiving week made me overwhelmed with hunger. I actually had potatoes with my bacon and eggs. I put some marmalade on my toast. We went to lunch with our good friend Martha Wheeler who is visiting from Louisville Kentucky and we went to Olive Garden. Yep, spaghetti and meat sauce. Martha is a real treasure. 86 years old and sharp as a tack and going strong. She raised a large family and spends her year traveling and visiting. Wow, if only we could be so lucky.

Tina tells me that she's making updates to my website and soon I'll have two new painting up. The Sundown Corral is about 95% up, the remaining few chapters soon. Poor Jack, still yearning for the lovely Cassy and knowing he has to leave her behind.

I want you all to have a magnificent Thanksgiving. We truly are blessed that we have survived this year and the recession has bottomed out. Unemployment stills sucks but it appears the housing market may be coming back. But, we still have each other and for most of us, that is all we need.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Miss White Teen Arizona

Yesterday I opened the paper - yes, I am one of the few remaining Americans that actually reads a daily paper, and enjoys it - and I saw a large article in the local section about a Miss Black Teen Arizona pageant. Pictured were some very pretty young ladies so no big deal right?

Except just last weekend Carol and I went to the Miss Teen Arizona USA and Miss Arizona USA pageant to support the beautiful young daughter of a friend of ours and to see our good friend Britt Boyce in action. Britt is the Executive Director of the Arizona pageant and the Utah pageant. Great job Britt! Britt had an array of American beauties to choose from and while I didn't think about it at the time, there were many different ethnic persuasion's to choose from. White girls, Hispanic girls, Black girls. I do believe a lady of color was one of the winners.

The next two days after the contest I scoured the paper looking for a write up on Britt's pageant. I found nothing. A few days later I see the big write up on the Miss Black Arizona pageant which hasn't even taken place yet.

There is something wrong here. Can a white girl run for Miss Black Arizona? You can bet that if Britt held a Miss White Teen Arizona there would be hell to pay.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

To mammogram or not to mammogram

The subject at breakfast with Carol this morning was a new federal study - The United States Preventive Task Force (USPTF) - that essentially said that they found it wasn't really necessary to have early mammograms starting at age 40. It went on to say that even after age 50 mammograms were necessary only every other year. The study sited that many mammograms generated false readings that led to patient anxiety and worry. It also stated that the false readings caused a high percentage of biopsies to come back negative, which made for unnecessary high medical bills and the aforementioned stress and anxiety. It also mentions how some biopsies actually caused disfigurement. The study also recommended against self examinations as it leads to more unnecessary biopsies, especially with women with denser breasts.

Now here is the kicker for me. It said only one life out of a thousand women is all that is actually saved by early detection as opposed to four hundred plus that suffer a false reading that leads to stress and anxiety and an ultimate clean bill of health.

So, the study says that the unwarranted worry and anxiety of four hundred plus women out of a thousand is worth one life. Huh?

I'm not a Doctor but I wonder at the logic of all this. Talk to your Doctor about this study but personally, as a husband and a father I want my girls to self exam and Carol to take regular mammograms. I'd rather be anxious and stressed than sorry.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Commercials - Don't you love'm

Advertising agencies must think we Americans are simple minded folk. I was watching TV the other day when I saw a commercial depicting a couple on a date and the poor guy had heartburn. Ruined the date. But, after a good dose of the miracle antacid the next thing you know they were walking down the aisle. So, I'm wondering, you think that guy would have taken the medicine if he'd known what the end result would be. Talk about a short engagement. And, what's up with the erectile dysfunction ads. Good Lord. First of all, like yeast infections it is something I don't really want to think about and besides if I had that condition for over four hours I'd be calling my buddies to brag.

Sometimes I'm dismayed by the lack of information some young people have unless they got it from the Internet. In other words no one under thirty watches the evening news the way I used to watch Cronkite. But, I understand why. The "major" news programs don't go after the youngsters. Watch and notice the ads that pay for the program. Every one of them is targeting seniors. No beer commercials, no i-pod or computer game commercials. Just how to color your hair to hide the gray. That and the aforementioned commercials. The other thing I can complain about is the volume of the commercials. I'll be watching a soft spoken CSI or something, hanging on every word then go to commercial and be blasted out of my chair by screaming high volume "buy me" stuff.

My wife hollers from the other room, "Turn that down! Are you deaf?"

Well yeah, maybe a little but it's not my fault, it's those danged commercials.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Did You See The Asassination On TV Last Night?

It's not often that you are watching live television and see an actual murder right before your eyes. That's the way it was last night while Carol and I were watching the Country Music Awards. That's when we witnessed an entire genre of music murdered in a hail of Taylor Swift awards. It might have lived if not for the last kill shot. She won for "Entertainer of the Year". In the catagory with such immensly talented people like singer, writer and great guitarist Brad Paisley, singer, writer and great guitarist Keith Urban, ledgendary talents Reba McIntire and George Strait. Entertainer of the Year mind you. The only problem with all this is she suffers from the Brittany Spears desease. She can't sing. She does write her own songs but you have to have the mentallity of a twelve year old to really enjoy them. I don't know who votes for these things but it must be the people that stare at the naked King and proclaim his new "garments" to be wonderful because everyone else is doing so.

Now, I know, you think I'm just being an old curmudeon. Not so. When LeeAnn Rimes debuted at age 15 I recognized a wonderful God given voice and was an immediate fan. Tanya Tucker was twelve when Delta Dawn became a hit. Really a great country voice. I'm not picking on poor little Taylor. I'm sure she is a wonderful girl and works very hard to please her handlers but........she can't sing. Not in the quality that deserves national attention.

Well there it is. Country music is officially dead. It was badly wounded when Kenny Chesney won Entertainer of the Year, but I hear some people are actually entertained by him. I'm entertained by the amazement I feel when I hear him and wonder what in the world people see in the guy.

I grew up listening to the rock station WLS out of Chicago but when I started learning to play the guitar I became a fan of country music. As a fan I would like to offer my deepest condolances to Brad and Keith and Reba and George. It must have been awful sitting there watching that little girl win and wondering - just what in the world do people want?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Back from Oz

As Dorothy said to Toto, "I don't think we're in Kansas anymore." We went back to the mid-west - Illinois to be exact - and we sure weren't in Phoenix anymore.

The mid-west is a place of its own. Especially the small rural farm communities. The first thing you have to do is to slow your internal clock way down. Everything there works on a slower basis. Everyone talks slower, walks slower, thinks slower, drives slower (unless they are teenagers)and just plain live slower. And everyone is big. I mean big! We ate at the local restaurant almost everyday and I gained five pounds. There was no such thing on the menu as a low carb, low cal, low anything item. Cutting back to them is ordering half a horseshoe. What's a horseshoe? If you were from the mid-west you would know. It's your toast covered with potatoes and eggs and covered again with gravy. Yum!

Technology has passed the little town of Pana by. Not that the kids don't have i-pods and cellphones, but we have neighbors that live full time by our lake cabin that don't have Internet. Not just even Internet, they don't have computers and by God don't want to mess with such foolishness. Technology to them is a new Ford pick up.

Now don't get me wrong, I love going back to this place. It is quiet and refreshing and a good reminder of my upbringing. However, for all its good there are two troubling traits. First, everyone smokes. Illinois passed a no smoking law just like Phoenix but no one in Pana has heard about it. When we visit our neighbors we come back smelling like pack a day smokers ourselves. I guess it's a small price to pay for good neighbors.

The other and most disturbing thing is the ugly blatant racism that is still there. Now, I don't want to indite all of them because most of them are real fine folk, but it's unfortunate that you can't have a meal out without running the risk of having to listen to some loudmouth bigot spout off. And, it's ugly. Phoenix has its ethnics but I guess I have lived in a part of the city that doesn't practice the kind of racism you find in these small towns in middle America. It is true that I've never seen a person of color in the town of Pana. Maybe this allows racist attitudes to prevail.
I had hoped that America had moved passed the Sheriff Bull Conners and water hose era of the sixties. More interesting to me was the louder the lout the bigger he was. And, the bigger he was the dumber he was. It was interesting listening to them spout off - you know the type, they talk loud so the entire room can hear - and they were mostly wrong. Whatever subject they held forth on they usually had their facts wrong. Well, no need to let facts get in the way of a good bombast.

Most of the really vulgar racist remarks came from people that I am prejudiced against. So I got to wondering, if I am prejudiced against a racist am I a assholeist?

Friday, October 30, 2009

This is it!

Tonight I'm going to blow my brains out. No, this isn't a suicide note. The band is playing at a Halloween party tonight so I get to blow my harmonica. We're setting up outside so I'm thinking of wearing my long johns. Amazing how quickly the weather can change. I like cool, but am not a big fan of cold. People complain about the heat here. I came from Illinois so I don't mind the heat. Heat can be uncomfortable but cold hurts. I remember living in Illinois and walking the seventy five yards from the parking lot to the office building I was working in and the cold was so bitter that my nose and chin would be frozen before I got in the door. Carol and I lived on a farm the year before we moved out here and I remember there being a thermometer mounted outside the kitchen window and I distinctly remember it registering 30 below zero one time.

Speaking of Illinois, tomorrow morning Carol and I board one of those big yellow birds of Southwest Airlines and fly to St. Louis. Two hours later we'll be at the lake cabin. The weather reports say we should take all our warm clothes. Carol's family has already checked the furnace and tell us it is working. This is a very good thing. The cold may cut back on my screened-in porch time but I'm excited to go anyway. But I'm not sure of Internet availability so I may not have a blog for a while.

What is that? Is that a sigh of relief. Just you wait till I get back!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Joy of the Blues

I've played some kind of music since I was in my early twenties. Way back in the early seventies after a night of beers and bank shuffle board with a friend of mine, Larry "the big noise from Peoria" Landwehr, we were back at his house when he pulled a guitar out and starting singing some old country songs. I immediately knew that was something I wanted to be able to do. Larry and I started a band, along with bass player Jim Guthrie and drummer Jordan "Dad" Smith. I couldn't play yet and had never sang in front of anyone but there is nothing like the combination of youth and gall. I've played ever since.

Somewhere along the line I realized that I'd never be a guitar virtuoso so I looked for something else that I could use and found the harmonica. I aspired to play the harmonica for a long time and over a long period of time I became more proficient. Last year I was invited to come to a friends house and jam around with some other musicians and over time the blues band, Casablanca Blue, was born. The hosts, who don't play, were Teri House and Joe White. White House. Casablanca. Cute eh? Now with another guitarist, John King, in the group I'm able to really concentrate on the harp and I'm really starting to have fun with it. I feel I've grown with the instrument because of all the practice time, and finally feel comfortable with it in about any venue.

And since I am naturally lazy, it is a good instrument to carry around. After a gig I watch with sympathy as the drummer breaks all those drums down and carts them to his truck and I pocket my harmonica and shout encouragement.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Words to live by, or at least laugh at

There are some people that just have a knack of putting great understanding of the human condition into just a few words. Here are a few (I'll start out by getting into trouble):

Silence gives the proper grace to women. Sophocles

Wickedness is always easier than virtue for it takes the short cut to everything. Samuel Johnson

The best laid plans of o' mice and men gang aft a-gley Robert Burns

Whatever makes men good Christians, makes them good citizens. Daniel Webster

The best of prophets of the future is the past. Lord Byron

I am a great and sublime fool. But then I am God's fool and all His works must be contemplated with respect. Mark Twain

Man is the only animal that blushes, or needs to. Mark Twain

A mugwump is a person educated beyond his intellect. Horace Porter

Life is painting a picture, not doing a sum. Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Advice is the smallest current coin. Ambrose Bierce

Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Thomas Alva Edison

The cruelest lies are often told in silence. Robert Louis Stevenson

The great question...which I have not been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is "What does a woman want.?" Sigmund Freud

Everything is funny as long as it is happening to somebody else. Will Rogers

Politics has got so expensive that it takes lots of money to even get beat with. Will Rogers

And this last for today, one of my all time favorites;

Always do right. This will gratify some people and astonish the rest. Mark Twain

Friday, October 23, 2009

The Kid In Us All

My brother once asked me how old I was in my dreams. What a great question. I know in my dreams I can still run like the wind and if I had to guess I'd say that I was, not a child but a young man. It's only when I look in the mirror in the morning that I realize that I'm wearing someone elses old face.

I was thinking of this because this weather change has made me almost giddy. So, this weekend Carol and I are dusting off ol' Tiger Lilly, our 19 foot sportdeck boat and we are heading to the lake. That boat has to get on the lake twice a year whether it needs it or not. I've always been a boat guy. I couldn't live anywhere there wasn't a lake close by. There's nothing like opening a throttle with the wind in your face and the occasional spray dusting you to make you feel young and alive.

And, don't we all have a irrepressible kid down inside? Halloween is one of those times of year that the kid comes out in most of us. Especially if you are lucky enough to be invited to a Halloween costume party. Oh man, to be a pirate again. Well, here's the good news, you are invited as my guest to a Halloween party on Friday, October 30 at 7pm. It's being hosted by my friends Joe White and Teri House at 3802 E Desert Cove. This is the northeast corner of 38th Street and Desert Cove. Desert Cove is just north of Shea Blvd. Costumes are strongly encouraged but not required. Casablanca Blue, the band I play with, is providing the live music. It's going to be a lot of fun. All you need to bring is a favorite beverage if you have a particular choice.

Come on, unleash that kid in you.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Remember What Mama Always Said

A recent Washington Post - ABC News poll stated that only 30% of the Americans polled claimed to be Republicans. I do believe that 90% of those live in Maricopa County and all of them attend North Bible Church. (I know, I know - that's mathematically impossible, just relax). My point is that I have a pretty good idea what the only black kid in class felt like. This doesn't stop me from loving all my right wing friends but enough with the e-mails already.

I was talking with my brother a while back and we were wondering why the only hateful, denigrating e-mails we get are aimed at the Democrats. I don't remember getting an e-mail that bashed John McCain or John Kyl. Not even Sarah Palin. We wondered, why is that?

Here's what I want you to know. I am not a left wing dingbat radical. If anything I am a moderate who can read and think and make my decisions based on what I think is the right way to go. Nobody is right all the time - right or left - red or blue. And, I truly respect your opinion whether I believe it to be correct or not. I just ask for the same.

My mother (and yours) always said, "If you don't have something nice to say about someone don't say anything at all". So, enough with the nasty denigrating e-mails. Try to remember that kind Christian, what would Jesus do part of you.

Don't stop sending me e-mails just please send me a funny joke, or a cute video, or pictures of your baby. If it has anything to do with slamming another person, in the public eye or not, please keep it to yourselves.

To paraphrase a popular adage: "Thank you for sending me your e - mail, I'll waste no time reading it."

And by the way, just to be clear, I credit President Obama's economic stimulus with saving my small business. Without someone like him at the helm when we crashed under the weight of the previous eight years I would have been bankrupt. So, thank you Mr. President and I know that you don't think you deserved the Nobel Peace Prize either, but you got it, so hold it out as a beacon to the future and lead us to a better America.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Where's Pana?

Our daughter, Amanda and her husband Lance have an American bulldog. She's going on two and is named after our cabin in Pana Illinois. Up until this week she came to work with Amanda everyday except Friday which was a half day for Amanda. She stayed in the office with us where she spent her time sleeping, begging twice a day for the treat that she trained me to give her and chasing little chipmunks out of our fenced in compound. We have a community of them just across the fence in the mountain preserve that our property backs up into.

This week Amanda started her internship in counseling which takes her away three days a week. Hence, no Pana.

Now, why am I missing this goofy animal. No, I mean Pana, not Amanda. Oh, she won't like that joke. Of course I miss Amanda but Amanda is a self sufficient type. She stays busy at her desk and it's been a long while since she's needed her Daddy. Pana, on the other hand will sit for long moments at a time just watching me. Now, I like to attribute this to her devotion and has nothing to do with the treats. If I get up to go out into the yard she is right beside me. If I go to the bathroom I have to shut the door in her face. If I get anywhere close to the cabinet where the treats are stored she loves me so much she almost knocks me over.

I told Lance that if he wants to bring Pana down to the yard, (he works next door) he can leave her in our office and we'll take care of her till he can pick her up after work. But, today she's not here. So, with Amanda gone and Pana not available, all I have left is Carol and she actually works which gets in the way of my entertainment big time.

Any one want to hang out with an old guy?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Send me a thousand dollars and God will reward you.

Renowned circus impresario P.T.Barnum said "There is a sucker born every minute".

I was flipping cabel channels last week when suddenly my ears heard a song that is performed in our church frequently so I stopped. The choir was in fine voice with much emotion and vitality when I noticed that up in the corner of the screen was a box revealing a line of women manning what appeared to be phone banks. Scrolling across the bottem was the enticement "Plant your $1000 seed and God will make your garden grow!"

I thought this was a pretty good deal. $1000 is a whole lot cheaper that having to live a Godly life.

As coincidence would have it Benny Hinn was on 60 Minutes last night. Now, here is a guy that knows how to wring the money out of ....., out of...., uh, suckers. This guy has been a televalgelist for over twenty years. He's the guy in the cheesy white suit and the bad comb over that heals people on stage. Puts his hands out and not even having to touch them (flu virus, right?) they are healed. They can walk, they can see, they can fall right back into the arms of Benny Hinn's, bodyguards, er, assistants. Right there on television in front of thousands of emotional, overwrought, uh.... suckers. The guy has a private jet. Lives large. Has no remorse and no guilt. Man what a gig. I don't know, I was just thinking, the cost of that jet, maybe fund cancer research or a new wing at the Children's Hospital. Think about it Benny. Fly coach and help a poor bald kid with cancer. Pretty good trade off. Or, even better, come on down to the Children's Hospital and cure them all right there. Take your show on the road. You want publicity, man oh man that would do it. You'd get more publicity than Sheriff Arpio.

In the meantime though, you folks that can't make Benny's revival, go ahead send me the thousand bucks and I'll personally forward it to the Children's Hospital. Every bit of it.

PS: For the two of you that are interested I've got some more chapters of the Sundown Corral up on my website.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Let's Tax Blogging

On the way to the office I was listening to the radio and was hearing about the amount of sugar cola's and soft drinks we consume in a year. I immediately was struck with one of those big embarrassing gassy belches that only come after chugging a coke. Just kidding, I made that up. But, what made me want to belch was the commentator was saying that some people are considering taxing soft drinks because they cause obesity and obesity drives up health care costs. My immediate reaction is "where does this stop?" Do we start taxing everything that may have some adverse reaction to somebody? Should government dictate lifestyle choices? My opinion is that the only time the government should stick its nose into lifestyle is when those choices endanger someone else. Like those idiots that drive around with their two year old on their lap. And, especially those that wrap the seat belt around them both. Your big fat a** squished your baby to death, now how do you feel about that. Come on, give them a big ticket.

But, let's take second hand smoke. Arizona recently passed a law that prohibits smoking in public places. It passed overwhelmingly. This doesn't tell me that it was overwhelmingly right, it just tells me that there was an overwhelming amount of non-smokers that voted. I don't like to smell cigarette smoke. And, I think it is only reasonable and just that public places be allowed to ban it within their walls. But, if a grown adult is dumb enough to smoke, who am I or you to dictate his or her lifestyle. If someone wants to own a bar and allow smoking inside, knock yourself out, I just won't come in. There is a famous blues bar in Phoenix that I haven't been to in years because I didn't want to reek when I came out of it. That was their choice. If parents wish to smoke they should be smart enough to smoke away from the children. If they don't, some good friend should slap them and get their attention.

And, how about blogging. How healthy is that? Sitting on your butt, getting no exercise, maybe drinking one of those 44 oz. slurpys while you are doing it. Maybe getting carpal tunnel syndrome. Aggravating the arthritis in your fingers. Helping out those saddle bags on your hips. Yep, I'm thinking a $1.00 per blog tax. Send it to me and I'll see it gets into the right hands.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

How do you find the one?

Carol and I have been together over three decades. In toasting Amanda and Lance at their wedding I told the crowd that it would have been longer if Illinois didn't have those pesky laws against dating fifth graders.

The seventeen year old daughter of a friend of ours recently experienced the bitter sweet -to older observers - and devastating - to her -experience of breaking up with her high school sweetheart. In her misery she told her Mom, "I just want to find the right person and get married and have children and live a happy life."

When told about this, my response was that at seventeen she needed to go to young people she knew and respected that were twenty two or older. She needed to ask these young folk about how they had changed between seventeen and twenty two. My point is that at seventeen you don't even know yet what you will have to offer Mr. Right. Why short change the poor smuck when in just a very few short years you could allow yourself to grow into something wonderful and could have a powerful something of substance to offer a life partner.

I wish I could say that Carol and I have been sweethearts since childhood. Alas, you do the math on my age and the number of married years mentioned above and you'll see this wasn't the case. Carol wasn't my first wife. This makes me a somewhat expert on picking the wrong person, and then picking the right person. Through high school Amanda or one of her friends would ask about how to find the right person to spend a life with. My formula is a simple one. But, to work it has to be completely understood and completely followed.

Each one in the relationship must love the other more than themselves.

That's it. Simple. Only, it has to work both ways. No matter the breadth and depth of love one may feel for the other it won't be enough to save the relationship unless reciprocated.

So, my little seventeen year old friend, time is on your side, so take it. Grow into your fullest potential and keep your eyes open for that fella that will end up loving you more than himself. Then see if you feel the same way.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Family, and then Family

It was early on in my adulthood that I realized that nobody has a Beaver Cleaver family. And, you don't get to pick your family. I"m not suggesting you'll find whacko's in your nuclear family necessarily but if you look in the extended blood family of any one you know you're going to find some serious weirdo's. Sometime soon I want to address the wonderful and wierd wacko's in my family (that'll make people nervous) but, today I want to talk about some of the absolute treasures I have. Carol and I met my cousin Vicki and her funny and fun husband Dr. Roger in Tucson. They were here from Florida at a convention and we drove down to see them. Vicki and her sister Deb are probably as close to sisters as I ever got. It is an absolute sin that I haven't seen Vick in 7 years, but we live a long way away from one another and Deb lives just as far in the other direction. So, it was a wonderful occasion to get caught up and we got caught up. I told her about my wacko's and she told me about hers. I had more.

Vicki should get the Clara Barton Humanitarian Award this year. She is my hero. She and Deb lost both parents after caring for them with love and devotion for the last few years. They died within a short time of each other. Uncle Bill was 90, Aunt Avis was 84. Vicki said her Mom just didn't want to live without Daddy. And during this same tragic time Dr. Roger, her devoted husband of decades, has been battling his own scary, physical demons, the nature of which is his business, but something that makes me wince. But, he tells me the prognosis is good. And to top it off Deb has battled against that bitch, breast cancer recently. Also with a good prognosis. Sometimes, I know Vicki had to throw her voice to the sky and scream, "Why me?"

Losing your parents is something everyone faces but when they have been the rock and the foundation of the life you have built, it is very tough. Siblings grow up and move away or marry people that distance them from the family but parents stick with you through thick and thin. It is a desperately lonely pain in the heart when they are gone. My and Vicki's time of life can be hard. Our children, while loving and around, are married and out of the house building their own lives, our parents are gone and no longer need us. We stand alone looking around, then gather our spouse into our arms knowing that without this loved one, this one last bastion, we are alone.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

A Poet, not a Mechanic

Poor Carol. Over 31 years ago she married a man without tools. I don't mean literally, I had a screwdriver and a hammer and a pair of pliers (why do they call it a pair of pliers when it's only one tool?). I even had a shovel and a saw. But, the problem was and is, I don't like using them. If there is one thing to get me completely irritated it is for something to break. I just don't have time for that. Things are supposed to work. Unfortunately for Carol I can live with a leaky faucet for months. I don't see a bump in my water bill so what's the big deal. Drives her nuts. A small leak in the roof? Heck, it don't rain here much. Now don't get me wrong, I can pretty much figure out how to fix most things as much as the next guy. I take no joy in it. I say she married a poet not a mechanic.

Now, I have friends that are just the opposite. My friend Charlie accompanied Carol and I, with his wife Cindy, to our cabin in Illinois. If you are ever lucky enough to have such a place, and I consider myself extremely lucky, I hope you get to visit yours more often than we get to visit ours. We only get back maybe four times a year. Usually for a week each. It goes without saying that a place like that always has something that needs to be done with it. Now here is the difference between me and Charlie. Charlie has tools. And, he likes using them. Ordinarily, left to my regular device I would contemplate the problem areas at the cabin for at least the first four days. I'd have to fish on it. Meaning, I'll think about what I have to do while I'm fishing or otherwise relaxing. Charlie has tools. He has already figured out the problems while we're on the airplane and wants to attack as soon as we are in the door. Charlie is constantly helping someone with problems. Mowing grass, putting in cabinets, tiling floors, hammering nails. He is one of the busiest guys I know. I love him but boy does he make me tired. And, look bad. Cindy once asked why I didn't do something.... whatever project at my house she saw needed doing. I pointed at my painting on the easel and said, "That is what I do. Not tools." Poor Carol.

Okay one more example to prove I'm in the minority among real men. On the way to quail camp I had a flat tire on my Suburban. Charlie was with me and my friend Brent (another man with tools) just happened to pull up at the right time. Before I could even get the spare out of back, I had been abruptly elbowed aside, shoved to a place where I could cause no harm and within seconds Brent and Charlie had the tire changed. I almost felt guilty. Almost.

After all, that was the most fun they'd had all day.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Life's a little abstract

I'm in the throes of painting a new abstract. I really like abstracts but some forms of "modern art" are lost on me. I saw a life like sculptors rendition of a bicycle at an art museum. I left wondering why they didn't just bring in a bicycle. On the other hand abstract painting frees the soul. It allows you to do any damn fool thing that comes to mind and no one can criticize it. Art is in the eye of the beholder which means that any number of people are not going to like any given piece of art. Once you understand this you are free to create. If someone criticizes the work I can just dismiss it thinking they just don't get it and go on about my smug and self centered way.

One really interesting thing about abstracts is that inevitably I find that I will paint the thing one way, say horizontally and then when finished I can turn it upside down, or maybe sideways and get a whole new perspective. A fresh and new look. If you view the abstracts on my website you'll be interested to know that not one of them are presented in the mode I painted them. You frugal folk out there, think of it this way. You can buy one abstract then periodically throughout the year turn it one quarter turn and move it from room to room and you'll have a new painting each time.

I think the life would be better if we could do this. Enjoy it for a while then give it a turn and the same old stuff becomes new and fresh. Get bored, give it a turn. Whole new world. What a great idea!

Let's try this. Turn this blog upside down and see what I was really writing about.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What do you need?

"One of the weaknesses of our age is our apparent inability to distinguish our needs from our greed's." Don Robinson

I grew up poor. I don't bring that up for a poor me moment, in fact being poor at a early age probably did me more good than harm. Over the period of my youth I had friends that had parents that were well off. Not Rockefeller's but much better off than my Mom. I began to notice something as I grew older. I had been trained by circumstance not to expect much in the way of worldly things but my better heeled friends viewed much of what they got as entitlement. In high school I had as much as three jobs at once. I bought my own clothes and I bought my own car. I was fifteen and too young to drive but it was parked out front and I washed it almost every day. My better heeled friends had allowances. Their mothers bought their clothes and when they turned sixteen, their fathers bought their cars. Newer cars than mine.

Why do I bring this up. We are going through a terrible economic time in our country. In my lifetime I have never seen it this bad. Many of you might not notice it as much, especially if you are employed by a large employer. Your paycheck keeps coming in. But then, many of you have been slapped in the face by it. I don't know of a small business owner that hasn't been effected and I know a lot of them. We had a fellow stop and knock on our office door yesterday. He is a certified plumber from California that has lost his job and his house and is in Arizona so that his wife and children can live with her parents while he stays with a friend and looks for work. Any kind of work, he says. He'll do anything, he says.

As a small business owner, my wife and I have had a very hard time lately. I'm happy to report we are still in business and the lights are still on but I've tightened the belt beyond the last hole.

So I go through all that to come to this; Remember a couple years ago when we were all fat and sassy? Remember what our priorities were then? It was important to have a better car, a better house, a better position. More bragging rights. There's nothing like being poor to get your head right. What is really important? What do you really need? Your find out you can do without a lot of stuff. A lot of baggage. Carol and I had breakfast this morning at home instead of eating out and she said something and whatever it was we laughed our heads off. We should be crying but we have something better than a new house and a fat bank account, we have each other. We have health, we have a wonderful daughter here and another in Illinois. Carol bought some clothes the other day and immediately felt guilty about it, but boy did she love those clothes. And better yet they were on sale! You can't beat a good sale. Remember when you didn't look for the sales? You really didn't care that much. You stopped at whichever gas station that was close? That was when you had something you really don't need to live an important life. Excess money.

Monday, October 5, 2009

What's Next?

Do you every look forward to doing something. I mean really anticipate at trip or an event in a palpable way. You can hardly wait for the day to get here and then bam! It's over and it's Monday morning and you look at the calendar with complete sadness that there is nothing on it.

Alas, quail camp has come and gone. Jim Taggert was the king of the camp, getting the most birds. Even Bunker, Blake's Brittany Spaniel got a bird. Went into the brush and come out with his own bird. Good job Bunker!

We all had a great time, spending time together and laughing about any damn fool thing that popped into our heads. Weather was great and the food was good, as always. If you see a good looking fella with longish hair and Khaki shorts carrying a shotgun walking down the street, don't worry it's just Dom still looking for camp.

I'm happy to report that Tina got some more chapters up on my website for The Sundown Corral. If interested in a reading break now and then you can access it on I hope to have a couple new paintings up this week.

Well I'm going to my desk and mope around until I think of something else to look forward to.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

One Man's Paradise

I'm always interested in people's varied tastes. Not only in food but in cultural things. I'm heading out tomorrow for three days deep in the Sonoran desert and I find the area I'm heading for to be absolutely beautiful. I don't consider all desert as beautiful, drive to Tucson and you'll see what I mean. But some of it can be outstanding. I've had many an easterner tell me how ugly they found our desert to be. Eye of the beholder. In the high heat of the day sometimes the desert is imposing and drab, but at sunrise and sunset it becomes just mystical. The mountains acquire a glowing purple cast and the skies are magnificent. I've experienced sunsets all over and very few match Arizona's.

I do notice that the older I get, the less I have in common with popular culture. Judd Aptow is a very rich guy having made his money writing and directing movie comedies. Unfortunately for me, they don't make me laugh. Especially the ones about young geeks doing stupid things. I was that age once and it wasn't funny. It was usually painful. Something about scatological humor and body part humor is, to me, almost sad. I'm wondering how talented you really are if you can't find a laugh in this very funny world without resorting to scraping the bottom. A young girl puts male sperm in her hair thinking it's hair gel. Oh boy, that's a knee slapper. One thing I do admire about my kids is that they laugh readily. And, they can find the humor in off beat TV shows which usually leads me to watch the show. Sometimes they lead me to a gem. Their latest discovery is "It's always sunny in Philadelphia". I've got it recording and look forward to seeing it.

I'm off to the desert, I should be back at the keyboard on Monday. I''ll leave you with this;

"What is comedy? Comedy is the art of making people laugh without making them puke!"
Steve Martin

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Position open: Mountain Goat and Snake Wrangler

Sometimes, on rare occasions, I am called into duty to leave the safety and sanctity of my little desk and am forced into the field to assist those capable guys we call Applicators. My expertise does not include applicating so I am usually relegated to pulling hoses and washing flagstone. Most of you know we have a weed control company and this requires spraying a liquid material on all places where the customer does not want weeds to grow. If it gets on something we don't want it on, such as flagstone (it has a temporary color), it has to be immediately washed off. That's my job. Sometimes we get a doozy of a job. Today was one of those days.

Go to Paradise Valley, into one of the most exclusive gated communities, follow the guards instructions and drive the winding road to the very top of the mountain. Sometimes I think that intelligence can be calculated by the amount of money a person has. The more they have the dumber they are. Well, that's not exactly right. It's the amount of money a person has and what they will spend it on. This was a six thousand plus square foot house perched into the side of the mountain. Many parts of it hanging out into space. One of our problems was that it was surrounded by an acre of tile that had been shipped from Italy specifically for this house. When I first saw this tile I thought it had been damaged as it had deep white scratches in it. Then I noticed that they all had deep white scratches in them. I wondered what it cost to ship damaged tile from Italy. Then I wondered why the customer didn't just buy some undamaged tile right here. I've lots of friends with tile. Thank God none of theirs is damaged.

We had to spray the mountain side around the house, down the steep mountain side on either side of the road well before and well past the house. This was no mean feat. Standing halfway down the mountain side, holding the hose I looked out at a beautiful view of Paradise Valley and as I slipped and slid in the mountain shale I looked at the house and wondered if the view was worth spending 6 million dollars to precariously perch the house on a really butt ugly scrub desert and nasty shale mountain. The property manager said this job kept her hopping because the house kept shifting. Huh! Shifting? Really?

And, what do you do with the kids? Junior go out back and play. Try not to fall 600 feet down the mountain again, honey.

And, there was a huge rattlesnake sunning himself on the narrow walkway at the side of the house that went straight down. And, I'm talking huge. Huge! No, really! Huge! Coiled and blocking the way. Unfortunately my friend John was leading the way. John doesn't like snakes. Saying John doesn't like snakes is like saying the surface of the sun is slightly warm. I'm not sure the human larynx was designed to emit the sound that came from John.

I know that Jesus walked on water, but my friend John must be able to walk on thin air. How else did he get around me. There was no room. And yet before I could react he was up the path and backing toward the street making a strange, agonizing sound. I didn't know until today that snakes could laugh.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Oh, Sweet October

As a Phoenician don't you just love October. Finally after what seems to be a year and a half the heat begins to abate and the evenings cool down to absolutely delightful temperatures. I know it is still warm during the day but the end of agonizing heat is nigh.

I've just spent a wonderful few days at the cabin in Illinois. It was cool and wet mostly with just enough good weather to coat the roof and of course, catch some fish. We bet one dollar on the first fish, one dollar on the most fish and one dollar on the biggest fish. Cindy Bennett won first and most but Charlie and Carol claim to have caught the biggest. You note that I say "claim". They are their only witness and had no evidence to support such a claim. Oh, the one that got away!

"The only time a woman can really change a man is when he is a baby!"
Natalie Wood

Okay, girls imagine this. You and some of your good friends are going to a spa. To be really pampered with massages and facials and all that wonderful hand and foot treatments. Then lay around a beautiful pool snacking on wonderful tidbits with a really cold glass of crisp white wine. Isn't that a wonderful image?

Well, us guys are going to quail camp. Quail season opens Friday morning and all us he-men are packing our creature comforts and our camp tents and cots and are traveling out into the unfettered desert to spend a few days chasing those little cute creatures and blowing them to kingdom come. Ah, yes. We are going to men's spa. Now don't think we're going out their just to hunt those elusive little dickens. We're going out there for the exact reason you would go to that spa with your buddies. There will be relaxation, fine drink and copious B.S. around the camp fire to compliment the succulent cuisine we bring with us. Oh, the joy to scratch and spit at will. If Will comes this year.

Friday, September 18, 2009

If it weren't for the last minute, nothing would get done.

I wonder if we are the only family that seems to continuously try to cram 10 pounds into 5 pound bags? It seems that the hurrieder I go the behinder I get. We are going to beautiful Mara's wedding tonight and Carol is helping Cindy Bennett with the flowers. Cindy is a wonderment with flowers and probably was up at 2am to start putting things together. But, if things are normal I can guarantee the last flower will be in place just seconds before Mara comes down the aisle. Unfortunately Mara's father is in the hospital and won't be able to walk her down the aisle and that is a terrible pity. Speaking from experience, there isn't much better than having your daughter on your arm as you make that life altering walk together. We wish him well and pray for a speedy recovery.

Being the father of the bride is an unusual position. Except for the act of reaching for your wallet the father really doesn't have much of a role. For you guys out there with daughters coming to that age let me give you a glimpse. You have spent your daughters life with her listening to every word, every piece of wisdom, every admonishment. Well, that stuff is over. Save yourself some frustration, don't offer any opinions on the wedding. Don't suggest where it should be held, don't suggest who should be in it, don't suggest how many to invite, don't suggest how to do the reception, the rehearsal dinner or the bachelorette party, and Lords knows don't say anything about which dress for her to wear except to say, "You look just beautiful!" Your opinion is just not wanted. I know that sounds harsh, but it is true. This wedding belongs in the hands of your daughter and her Mother.

My friend Charlie said it best. He said, "Being the father of the bride is like being the caboose on a runaway train!"

Good luck to all you future fathers of the bride and don't say I didn't warn you.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Oh Fabjous Vacation!!

Don't you just love getting ready to go on vacation? I believe the days preceding the actual trip are just as filled with anticipation and joyful expectation as the actual thing itself. Carol and I with friends Charlie and Cindy are heading for the cabin on Monday. We have a great little place on a most beautiful lake in south central Illinois. Pana Lake, the place of peace and the actual catching of fish. Not just fishing. Fishing is looking for, hoping for, waiting for a fish. Catching is actually getting the little buggers. My buddy Jed says he gets bored fishing. Come to Pana buddy, you won't get bored.

I like to call our place the "Lake House". Or, when I really want to impress "The Lake Property". Carol is a pragmatic farm girl, she calls it the "trailer". No matter, I love it. There are times when I can't sleep and stressful thoughts of business fill my head and I toss and turn. Then I turn my mind to the cabin. (There, that's a good compromise). We had a screened in deck built on the back. It's about 12x20 and we furnish it with comfy deck furniture. I think about sitting there, a cool breeze flowing through, the screen keeping all the pesky Illinois bugs away, and looking out across our green and peaceful cove. The wind moves the surface of the water a little causing gentle ripples and once in a while a small circle appears where a fish has surfaced to snack on a white fly. You listen to the wind in the trees and troubles melt away. Once in a while it may even start to sprinkle. One of those light refreshing rains that cleanses everything and makes all the green greener and everything new. And, I look down at our boat dock and I think about taking a rod down and trying my luck under the overhanging branches of the trees that line our side of the cove. But cooler heads prevail and I decide to light a cigar, fix a cocktail and sit and enjoy God's gift for a while.

For a view of the lake from the deck go to my website, and look at my painting "Jessie Rows". That is what I look at from my perch on the deck. Excuse me, I know I'm early but I have to go pack now.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Man Rules!

A friend of mine gave me a book of man rules compiled by Esquire Magazine. I expected funny, what I didn't expect was how close to basic truths they would become. My friend immediately pointed out rule #250, "There is no shame in well-done steak!". My friend likes his meat mutilated and burned beyond the capabilities of the CSI team. This is one rule I just can't go with. My good and lovely friend, forgo the steak and eat the charcoal.

Here are some that speak truth:

Rule #247

People who fish are very unlike people that don't fish.

If the Apocalypse comes in my lifetime. If the flag goes up and civilization is doomed, I want the people who fish with me. Meet at my house, bring your gear.

Rule #293 (For all you teenagers and twenty somethings)

Before getting any sort of tattoo, devote a few minutes thought to figure how it will look on your saggy, wrinkled, puckered flesh in the nursing home. Don't scare the great grandchildren! (I added that part).

Rule #291

This for you all that travel together. "On any road trip, he who is driving gets control of the radio. No exceptions." Almost no exceptions. Anyone fascinated with Celine Dion or Barry Manilow are exempted.

And this last one for today. For you fellas out there;

Rule # 302 (In our circle of friends with so many babies coming so fast and furious, this rule could save a valued friendship.)

"The correct description for any photograph of someones else's baby is 'Adorable!'. Have this word ready to go before the photograph is shown, so that, even if the baby is shockingly ugly, you can utter 'Adorable!' without hesitation.

Of course this doesn't apply to any of our new babies.

Okay, one more;

Rule #274

"Pliant people are, more often than not, smarter than stubborn people."

Rule #275 (Here comes the rub)

"But stubborn people are always more effective."

Watch the 24 hour cable news cycle. Those stubborn people are loud!

Monday, September 14, 2009

The Sundown Corral

I am really excited that my website, has been updated and one of my novels is being uploaded. If you wish to access it you can do so from this blog. I've written five different novels and three of these are westerns and looking at the title above you might think The Sundown Corral is a western also. You would be wrong. It does take place in the west, right here in Phoenix, but the time is 1980. When Phoenix was not yet the big glass and concrete sprawling wall of noise it has become. Back then it was still an almost sleepy big cowtown. Everyone was friendly and down to earth. We had no high rises on Camelback, no sports team except the Suns, no massive housing developments and for me, no worries.

This is my Steinbeck novel. John Steinbeck (Grapes of Wrath, East of Eden) was the best at capturing the real people. The regular folk. The ones that really inhabit the world.

I worked a very short time as a bartender at a little bar on 32nd Street named the Sundown Corral. I used it as a backdrop for my story. I was fascinated by the sub culture of bar people. Fascinated at how the neighborhood bar was as much a part of their lives as church is to my Christian friends. Many of the characters are based on real folks. The Old Man, Diane, Butch, Duane, Chicago George, John the Painter and many others actually existed but not necessarily in the form I created for them. The physical description of Jack and Cassy was based on real people but their circumstances are purely fiction. The description of the Corral is accurate. The description of the "Rodeo" is accurate. Doc Goldman is retired and living in Michigan teaching Junior College Math. Many of the bars are still there though some have changed names.

However, this is not a story about a bar. It is a story of redemption, a story of reconciliation, and mostly a coming of age story of a young man searching for the father he never had and finding so very much more.

Tina has the first four chapters up and I like this segmented uploading as it allows someone to read a little at a time. Take a few minutes from the day and go to another world. A world that in my memory was a lot simpler and a lot sweeter than today. I suppose that is the way of all memories.

If you like it let me know. Either post a comment on this blog or e-mail me at If you don't like it, be kind.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

From a ten to a three in a glance

So this guy walks into the Doctors office with what appears to be a duck growing out of the top of his head. The Doctor says, "Oh my, that certainly looks to be a problem!" and the duck says "Yeah, so how are you going to get this thing off my butt?"

Carol said I should make these blogs funnier.

Driving to work today I stopped at a stop light waiting to turn left when a sports car pulled up beside me. I glanced over to see a very attractive blond girl at the wheel. I mean very attractive. Hey, I'm old but I still have eyes. So I glanced at her again and that's when I saw the cigarette between her fingers. I was surprised at my reaction. The girl went from a ten to a three in an instant. She's good to look at but I don't want to be close enough to smell her.

Now I have to tell you, when I was her age I smoked. Everyone smoked. Every movie star, everyone on television. We all had a Pall Mall or an Old Gold hanging from our lips. Bogart wouldn't have looked so cool if he didn't have the cigarette. When you smoke you don't smell it. I admit freely I will smoke a cigar on festive occasion and I like the smell of pipe smoke but lingering cigarette smoke stinks. Bad. But, since we all smoked we all smelled alike. And we were ignorant. At age 56 my father died of lung cancer, a pack and a half smoker his entire life. He cried at the end. It still took me another ten years before I realized that I couldn't say I was really smart and at the same time have a pack of fags in my pocket. Fags, weird huh? That's what we all called them. My Dad wouldn't quit but he he knew the danger, even back then. I remember him taking a white handkerchief and drawing a cigarette through it and showing me the brown nicotine left behind. That goes into your body, he said.

See Carol, that was funny.

One last thing, whichever of the twelve of you that reads this blog, I mean the one that is a personal friend of the President I want to say Thank You! Evidently you told him of my previous blog that was an open letter to the President. The one about him taking command of this health care debate. Well, I watched his speech last night and he obviously had heard about my blog. So, whoever you are, thanks again!

I know there are many sides to be considered in this issue and most don't understand insurance anyway but as I spent over twenty years in the health insurance industry I feel I have a little better perspective than the average boy. Hey, if you have any questions about your health insurance or about the debate e-mail me at and I'll try to help you understand. No political agendas. If I can't help because I don't have enough information, I'll tell you that also. Mention this blog as the subject so I won't think it's spam.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Food oh glorious food

Don't you just love food. Don't you just love the fact that you can eat anything you want and all you want and never gain a pound? What? Oh, you too?

Is anyone else addicted to the Food Channel? I was watching one of the shows, maybe Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives and they were frying everything. I mean everything. Hotdogs, sandwiches, everything. One of their specialties was french fried Twinkies.

Just before Amanda was married I had taken her to the Bridal shop for a fitting and we stopped at the Texaz Grill at 16th street and Bethany Home Road for lunch (great place!). After having the usually superb lunch the waitress asked if we wanted desert. Being a born and bred smart A I said not unless you have french fried Twinkies. She laughed and said "Sorry, I don't have that." It wasn't two minutes later she came back with a french fried Twinkie and set it in front of me. "There you go," she said. Amanda and I and everyone within earshot cracked up. It appears the Manager overheard me and yes indeed, happened to have a Twinkie that he threw in the fryer. Laughing, Amanda said, "Okay smart aleck, now you have to eat it!"

It was delicious.

My Mother was a good cook, not as good as Carol but good in the simple fare that we had available in the early fifties in the northern hills of Missouri. She made the best fried chicken, mashed potato's and gravy you every put in your mouth (Texaz Grill's chicken fried chicken comes close). She also baked our bread, we rarely had store bought.

One of my earliest memories was when she had baked some bread and had a baseball sized amount of dough left over. After pulling the bread out she stuck that leftover dough in and promptly forgot about it. I don't know how long it sat in the oven but when she finally remembered it had baked to the consistency of a bowling ball. She gave it to me to gnaw on. Sometime later an irate neighbor came to the door dragging a squalling, blubbering, snot nosed boy my age. The neighbor really gave Mom the dickens because his son claimed I had hit him in the head with a big rock. Mom called me to the door and asked me if I'd hit that boy with a rock. She was really upset. Innocent as the driven snow I replied, "No Ma'am, I did not! I hit him with your biscuit!"

You get a reputation in a small town it sticks for a while. Mom's reputation as a baker suffered until we had to move.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Lightning Strikes

I happened to catch Brooks and Dunn on the Today show this morning where they announced they were taking a break from each other and it got me to thinking about just who lightning strikes. What I mean is that there are entertainers out there that reach unbelievable heights of fame and wealth for reasons I don't understand except to just say that God's fortunate finger touches some people. Kix Brooks was a failing country singer in Nashville when a producer saw Ronnie Dunn sing with a great voice and the stage personality of a post. Hence the great idea of coupling the energetic Brooks with the immovable Dunn. All Kix had to do was show up and jump around the stage and run up and down and pretend sometimes to be singing along with Ronnie. Millions of albums, millions of dollars. God's fortunate finger rested on Kix Brooks.

Who else?

Okay, this is going to get me into trouble. Probably the greatest example of God's fortunate finger is a country singer with a mediocre voice who watched Chris Ledoux swing out onto stage on a rope to the thunderous approval of the audience and decided then and there that the stage show is the thing and it doesn't matter that your voice is no match for the greats. God's fortunate finger touched Garth Brooks and he outsold Elvis. I'll admit he is a great entertainer, but still a mediocre singer. Come on, put his voice against George Jones or Waylon or Cash.

In the literary world I see that Dan Brown has a new book coming. You might remember Dan, he wrote the DaVinci Code. One of the more amateurishly written books to ever become popular. I mean this guy couldn't write his way out of a paper bag. Without the Jesus and Mary Magdalene had babies hook, which energized the ire of the Christian community and thusly gained an ungodly amount of free publicity, the book should have been laughed out of the publishers office. I saw Elmore Leonard, who I have mentioned more than once in my blogs, on the Charlie Rose show. He was asked about the writing ability of Dan Brown. He could only politely grimace. Dan Brown has made millions and with the new book stands to make many more. I fear it is the Emperors new clothes. If the media jumps on the bandwagon the masses will follow. J. K. Rowling almost makes this list but at least she can write a little. I only read the first Harry Potter and it was a cute kids story, but I can't see it deserving the adulation it received. Maybe it was God's knuckle that touched that one.

The other guy I think of is Kristian Bush who joins Jennifer Nettles in Sugarland. Another guy that jumps around to energize the show, unfortunately for him Ms. Nettles has her own energy and I wonder how long it will be before he is jettisoned. I hope never, I do admire loyalty.

Now this interesting premise; how about in your work place. Have you ever known someone with mediocre or at least just reasonable ability touched by God's fortunate finger. When I had my Insurance Agency a peer of mine had the Wisconsin territory. A good guy, but not special and the territory was okay but not a gold mine. Lots of competition. Suddenly the State of Wisconsin did something no other state would do. They actually endorsed our product as the one to buy. For the next five years all he had to do was have enough people to answer the constantly ringing phones. He was rich overnight while the rest of us salesmen still had to go out and beat the bush.

Oh yeah, I like doing it the hard way! Oh yeah, I'm a big believer in hard work! Oh yeah, honest, intelligent effort is always rewarded (unless it's in this economy). Oh Yeah.

Please God reach down and touch me on my slightly balding head.

Friday, September 4, 2009


It is finally Labor Day weekend. Ironic isn't it? Three days of leisure to celebrate Labor. As an average boy I have a deep respect for the ordinary laborers that keep our society turning. I was thinking back to the labors I've performed in my life, I was amazed at how many different things there were. I had a paper route when I was seven, at the same time on weekends I would sweep out a machine shop. In Junior High School I was the janitor in a Kresges (precursor to K-Mart). I'll never forget that the Manager somewhat sarcastically called me "Lightning". Wonder what he meant? In high school I pedaled an ice cream cart on weekends and worked in the body shop at Highfield Buick in Decatur Illinois during the week. After graduating in the lower half of my class I went to work at the Caterpillar Plant where I worked on the bur bench grinding the sharp metal shards off of freshly milled metal. After I gained some seniority (a heavy union requirement) I became a hand trucker. We went on strike 6 times in 11 months. From there I became a Station Agent Telegrapher for the Illinois Central Railroad, then a factory worker, a shop clerk, a computer operator, a gandy dancer (during a strike), a Maintenance Manager, a purchasing buyer, a photographer, a retail manager, an insurance salesman, an Agency Manager and a Vice-President of a national insurance company. Then I retired and became a manure inspector. Whew! I think I'll take the weekend off.

Some of you have heard my daughter Amanda sing at church. A God given voice. If you are interested in hearing some more go to my web site and click on music. This is an album of songs I have written over the years that she performs to perfection. She was in college at the time and her voice has only gotten better with age. Uh, not that she's old, she's not. Actually really young yet, not old at all. I have to be careful, she reads this. Don't know why she's so sensitive about being a quarter of a century old. I wonder how many occupations she'll have at 63? Hopefully, with all that schooling it'll only be one.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Those important morality plays called Westerns

Now before you young folks and especially you ladies out there blow this off because it's about cowboy movies, give me a chance. A really good Western is as important a piece of art as a really good play. Many of the best ones can be compared to the original Greek dramas. I'll start with one of my all time favorites, Hombre. Starring Paul Newman and directed by Martin Ritt, it is based on an Elmore Leonard story. This is much more than a shootem' up, fist full of collar cowboy movie. Newman stars as John Russell a man raised on the San Carlos Apache reservation. He finds himself on a stage coach where he is soon banished to the topside because he doesn't fit with the civilized folk inside. All about prejudice. But guess what, when the stage gets into serious trouble and lives are on the line, who do all these civilized people turn to for salvation. Yep, Mr. Outcast. The movie also dwells on moral right and wrong and comes down to one of the hardest life or death decisions I've ever seen in a movie. Also stars one of our greatest actors and probably the best bad guy ever, Richard Boone.

Another personal favorite is Jeremiah Johnson starring Robert Redford and directed by one of the really great directors, Sydney Pollack. Yeah, that Sydney Pollack from Tootsie. I mentioned in a previous blog that I always had a place in my heart for Mountain Men. This movie is based on a true story about a man that came to be known among the tribes as "liver eating Johnson". Now girls, don't let that turn you off, this is one entertaining movie, one of Redfords best. You walk away with a plethora of one liners such as when Redford had just bragged he could skin any animal on earth and Old Griz, played by Will Geer lures a raging grizzly into the cabin and declares "Well Pilgrim, you skin that one and I'll go get you another!" Another is "Saw it right off!" which is what Old Griz comments when ever Redford hadn't listened and ended up paying a consequence. In other words, I told you and you didn't listen and now you pay. Haven't all we parents been there?

Okay, I'll wrap this up. Here are other really good Westerns:

For pure fun, Rooster Cogburn and the Lady with John Wayne and Katherine Hepburn and
Cat Ballou with Jane Fonda and Lee Marvin. Sheer entertainment.

Others will be The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance, John Ford's classic with John Wayne and Jimmy Stewart. Shane with Alan Ladd, the absolute original morality play about the stranger coming to town to aid the good guys against the bad guys. Another great bad guy, Jack Palance.

For more realistic westerns I recommend Ulzana's Raid and Valdez is coming both starring an older Burt Lancaster. Valdez, again, is based on an Elmore Leonard story.

Two more would be The Shootist with John Wayne with Opie - Ron Howard. This was Wayne's last film and if you listen to the dialog it's as if he knew it. Another recent really good western is the Kurt Russell version of Tombstone. Val Kilmer playing Doc Holliday is worth the price of admission alone. "I'll be your Huckleberry!" I don't know how he avoided an academy award. I know a lot of people think the Dennis Quaid version in Kevin Costner's Wyatt Earp was better but my money is on Kilmer.

Okay this is way too big, I still have 20 really good movies on my list. Do yourself a favor, get some popcorn, throw one of these in and enjoy good cinema. A word of warning, some of these are not suitable for pre-teens.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

A Fistfull of Collar

I mentioned earlier that I wanted to blog about the literary genre The Western. I grew up with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. My brother and I would be watching the Gene Autry Theater until we heard Mom's footsteps on the porch then we would switch the TV to the Mickey Mouse Club. Mom didn't allow us to see anything violent which is funny since I was 9 and my brother was 11 and nothing can be more violent than two boys that age. Mom very seldom allowed us to go to the movies, cost was one factor but again, she saw no good coming to us by watching such carrying on. One time we begged to go see Francis the Talking Mule. We had saved some money we got for turning in pop bottles we had searched the streets for and received 2 cents apiece for. So, she asked around and a couple of the church people thought it would be okay since this was a comedy. As we left for the theater her last instructions to my older brother was that under no circumstance should I be allowed to view any violence. As it turned out the movie was indeed a murder mystery so in the opening scenes Francis the Talking Mule witnesses a murder in his barn. As the hand holding the gun came into sight from around a stall my brother tackled me, attempting to cover my eyes. Quite naturally, never taking much from him, I fought back. Next thing we knew we were on the floor between the seats punching and gouging among the spectators feet.

When we got home Mom asked my brother if there had been any violence and he honestly said that he had prevented me from seeing any of it.

But I digress. Shelby Foote the noted American historian once said that while our country had obtained its national character because of the Civil War, we got our national personality from the old west. As said previously, I grew up with Roy Rogers and Gene Autry but I was still young when I began to forsake that shiny Hollywood singing cowboy for more gritty and factual fair. We didn't have television when I was a lad so we spent our summer days using imagination to invent entertainment. Instead of cowboys and Indians we played mountain men. The library was available and we read every book we could get our hands on about the true west. As a young romantic I thought the greatest thing would to have been born a Sioux Indian in the late eighteenth century. I didn't take into consideration the 35 year life expectancy.

So as a young adult I really cherished the nitty-gritty westerns that captured that era factually. Many of my favorites became movies; Shane, The Ox-Bow Incident, Hondo, The Searchers, Riders of the Purple Sage, and The Virginian to name a few. In the last thirty years some other great movies have come out, old ones like The Tin Star, and The Gunfighter, McCabe and Mrs. Miller, The Stalking Moon, and The Bend in the River. Two of my favorites have always been Jeremiah Johnson and Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I started wearing black shirts because of Robert Redford. I've already talked about the Elmore Leonard movies.

This is too long for one blog so tomorrow, whether you be man, woman or child I will name ten western movies you have to see.

I noticed that Google puts ads on my blog related to the subject. Yesterday Anti-itch Fungal Creme popped up. So as an experiment today the subject is How to Enlarge Your ........

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Today I indulge......

Today I indulge myself with a couple of personal things. First, my brilliant daughter Amanda who is on the downhill slide toward her Masters in Counseling sat down, one on one, with her first clients. And, not wanting to save the worst for later, her first client dropped a personal problem bomb that Amanda says sent her blood pressure racing. She can't disclose the exact details but she said it was a very serious situation to face your first time out. She did great.

Another thing, my good friend Tina Stephens has my new web site up, not complete as it will be a work in progress for a couple of months. At least my oils and some of my music is available. I will be adding, hopefully today, a link from the blog to the website and back. Visit

Okay, now to something much more important. Am I the only one that standing in line at the grocery or the pharmacy with delicate items that feels that every woman in line is staring at my purchases. A few days ago the area on my finger where my wedding ring resides began to itch. It turned red and scaly (too much info?). My wise daughter, married to an ex-jock football player, suggested I get an anti-fungal cream. Seemed innocent. You go look. Every anti-fungal cream at Walgreen's screams RELIEVES JOCK ITCH! Holy guacamole, that isn't the only place a fungus resides. I felt compelled to explain but the lady said it was just none of her business. I finally had to stick my finger under her nose for her to agree that maybe I didn't have that other problem. I left before security arrived.

Monday, August 31, 2009


The family and extended family welcomed a new little addition, fresh born Fischer Charles Robinson. I held him yesterday and marveled at the wax like perfection to the little ears and nose and lips. I enjoyed holding him but now lets get him grown up so we can play.

I'm always aware of and marvel at the Mars / Venus differences between men and women. Now I know that not all women are exactly alike and not all men are exactly alike but by in large you walk a new baby through a room of women and they all will crane their necks, and coo and surround the little thing with broad maternal smiles on their faces. The men in the room will shuffle their feet to get out of the way, averting their eyes fearful that someone will expect them to hold the fragile thing. The women will exclaim, "What a beautiful baby!" Men will clear their throats and say something like, "That sure is some baby there."

Fischer is a boy. Discussions among the genders are different when it's a boy. The little guy is going to be circumcised. Women smile with a small smile of humor at this. Men cringe and most feel a little pang of sympathy. There were three or four of us males discussing this impending procedure and being male, jokes began. One said, "What do they use, a cigar cutter?" Another said, "Can you keep a souvenir?" One guy told the tale of the Doctor that slipped up and took the whole thing off. He said the Doctor left it to the family as to whether to raise the poor thing as a boy or a girl.

How does the Doc break this news to the family? "I've got some bad news and some good news, the bad news is that we whacked the whole thing off, the good news is there's a junior miss sale at Macy's!"

How do you raise that boy as a girl? I mean how's that beard thing at your first prom doing for you? I'm one of those guys that think a girl born in a boys body or a boy born in a girls body is a genetic screw up rather than a lifestyle choice. I'm thinking that that the X's and Y's got together for a quorum and by the time the decision was sent by pony express the barn was already built.

Newborns are just ultra-special. My oldest daughter Samantha said it best. Upon her first born she said, "Dad, I know that everyone thinks their baby is really special, but mine really is!" You are right honey, they really are.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Please, Mr. President - an open appeal

Mark Twain said, "Suppose you were an idiot and suppose you were a member of Congress, but I repeat myself."

Will Rogers said, "This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when a baby gets hold of a hammer."

I wrote an earlier blog on the health care debate. There is not enough space to get into every specific but I am watching with some dread as the debate goes in ways that are not in our best interest. I put the blame on one thing. The President has deferred to Congress to come up with health care legislation. Let me make this a direct appeal to the President.

Mr. President,

You were elected on a groundswell of enthusiastic hope for change. Although our economic woes came late into your campaign you embraced the problem upon taking office and you gathered the top economic minds of the nation and you set forth a program to deal with this enormous problem. You consulted Congress but by in large you made the decisions. Most independent economic experts are agreeing that the stimulus plan has generally worked and a brighter 2010 is in store.

Why then have you acquiesced to Congress on the health care legislation. In all my years I have never seen a committee achieve anything great. No matter what the great idea is, it is a muddled mess when it comes out the other end.

Only strong leadership keeps the mud from happening. Maybe you had idealistic hopes of bi-partisanship when you came to Washington. Maybe you thought the members of congress would be swayed by the enormous amount of support you came to Washington with. You should have known better. If you thought that any given individual member of Congress would put the overall good of the nation's people ahead of getting re-elected in their district or state, shame on you for your naivete.

The time is now to gather the best experts from all sides of the issues and formulate the plan that best services the American people. This will take great intellect and tremendous leadership skills. It won't take a committee. If you succeed and your plan betters the lot of most Americans we will recognize it. Then when the obstructionists make themselves known they will be dealt with at the next election.

Okay, maybe I'm being a little naive.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Who's that guy ragging on Phoenix

Just the name of my overall blog -the average boy - should tell you that I'm a pretty moderate guy. I don't usually go to the extreme end of almost anything. Being of this nature I'm always surprised to hear of someone taking an extreme knee jerk reaction to a subject that clearly has two sides to it. I was reading about this - so called - travel expert, Arthur Frommer, who after seeing the story of the nitwit that took a AK47 to an Obama rally in Phoenix, declared that he would never visit Phoenix again. He wanted no part of a place that allowed citizens to carry guns. Read a previous blog and you'll see my attitude about that guy that carried the gun, but I had to just laugh out loud. Great Googilymoogily, if you get spooked by a nut case in a metropolitan city you just limited your travels to Mayberry. And even it had Barney Fife. Try telling the citizens of Chicago or New York, and lord knows L.A that they don't have a few wacko's hanging around. I really don't know who this guy is but I'm pretty sure if he left his home and visited Phoenix the average I.Q. of both places would drop dramatically.

Okay, let me ask you this; How many of you guys have a neighbor that is maybe border line strange. We have this one old couple that cracks me up. He always wears a Jungle Jim safari hat when he's outside and she has fake deer in her desert landscaped front yard. Here's the fun thing. She covers their antlers and the top of their heads with tinfoil. I think she's afraid aliens will read their thoughts. Does every neighborhood have an old reclusive couple living in a house that looks like it belongs in the "Silence of the Lambs"? One cool thing is, we have a neighbor that knocked out the kitchen wall and put in a garage door. In good weather they push a button and have an open air kitchen. That is too cool. We have another neighbor we call Wonder Woman. She does it all. Paints her own house, builds a block wall, stucco's, puts in electricity. Whew! It makes me and my male neighbor friends tired just watching.

Let me know who your weird neighbors are. If you are a neighbor of mine, never mind!