Made in the USA

texas jeans

Mom, Apple Pie, and Chevrolet – USA! That used to be a fact. I can still count on Mom, but not so much the others.

Apple pie contains GMO’s and High Fructose Corn Syrup. You might as well use Ethylene Glycol as a sweetener! Chevrolet has become the mother of welfare queens, expecting taxpayers to bail out corporate malfeasance and managerial neglect. For a while, we owned a portion of General Motors, but then sold back the shares at a phenomenal loss. No wonder our 401k’s took a hit! Read more

Craftsman ratchet woes

Craftsman 43771 43772 ratchetsI have always bought Craftsman tools whenever I could afford them. They were well crafted, and the mechanics tools came with a lifetime warranty. No questions asked, easy replacement – just walk into any Sears and they swapped the tool with a brand new one.

How times change. Read more

ARTillery – exhibit at the Mesa Art Center

Mesa Art Center exhibit

Mesa Art Center exhibit

Last night, Liz and I attended the opening reception at the Mesa Art Center. With the snowbirds flying back home for the summer, the mood was much different from other times we have visited the center. The locals are much more relaxed and friendly. It might have something to do with being able to drive to our destinations without fighting congested traffic. Or, maybe the fact that we can now frequent our favorite restaurant at dinner time and not face an hour wait in line. Or, possibly that we can find a seat at the bar at our local watering hole. Read more

Two out of three is bad…

Two out of three at Churchill DownsI am not generally a betting man – I work too hard for the little I earn. But sometimes you just have to cut loose – and Saturday being the Kentucky Derby, I laid some money down on Race 11.

A drunk Irishman from Canada taught me how to read the racing forms and how to bet. He had a little more experience with the ponies that I do, but I learned a few rules of thumb. Read more

Early Morning Hike

Superstition Mountain

Misty Superstition Mountain

As the temperatures rise, our hikes begin earlier. By 9AM, it gets too warm to be comfortable.

We headed out at 7:30 this morning, and hiked the flat preserve just outside of town. Beside the exercise, I wanted to collect more detritus for my artwork.

Hedgehog Cactus in bloom

Hedgehog Cactus in bloom

I scavenged an assortment of old can lids and rusted metal. We spotted a coyote who was too shy for a photo op, ground squirrels and plenty of quail.

The Saguaro all had blossoms on the top, as did some of the hedgehog cacti. That is one flower you really do not want to pick. Read more

Website updates

website Stan SperlakMy website design keeps me busy during my off-time. If you are looking for an affordable, custom website, I would be happy to discuss your options with you. Feel free to contact me.

This past week, Stan Sperlak added new paintings, and a slew of workshop updates to his website.

Kirk McBrideKirk McBride also added new paintings and information on his upcoming workshop.

Both artists hail from the East Coast. Stan is a renowned pastel artist from the Cape May region of South Jersey, and travels the world hosting workshops. Kirk is from the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and teaches plein air.

Phoenix Cajun Festival

Yesterday was a perfect Arizona day, not a cloud in the sky, a constant breeze, and not so hot that you fried your brains.

Zach DeputyLiz and I went to the Phoenix Cajun Festival to see Big Bad Voodoo Daddy. Boasting the original line-up that has not changed since 1989, they had the arena swinging.

Sponsored by Abita Beer, Abita had a full line of brews on tap. Cajun food in the food courts, even a cigar vendor. The day started off with the Bad Cactus Brass Band controlling the stage for three hours. Zach Deputy followed with a two-hour set with no break.

After his gig, Zach hung around the arena and freely chatted with the audience. He mingled around the arena and did not hole up in the VIP section, to his credit.

Today I made a large batch of salsa.  We are having a pot luck at work tonight, and I was volunteered to bring my home-made salsa and chips. Now I will relax for the remainder of the afternoon, before an evening nap, and then off to work for another week of the grind.

Nothing new here

ringneck turtle doveThere is not a lot new here in Arizona. I work, sleep, and work again.

I have updated a couple of websites – and will post particulars soon.

My friend visits daily, and she persists on being a nuisance until I feed her. Her mate still will not eat from my hand, but she will tolerate me rubbing her feathers with a finger for a few seconds in exchange for a kibble.

Saguaro bloomThe Saguaros are beginning to blossom, a little early this year. The white flowers bloom at night, and generally do not last more than a couple of days.

Last month we had a week with record high temperatures, after a rare winter snow on New Year’s Day and a higher than normal amount of precipitation. Read more

Prickly Pear in blossom

prickly pear blossomThe Purple Prickly Pear cactus in front of our studio is in full blossom this week. The flowers last a couple of days, providing a very brief splash of color in the desert.

The petals make a very interesting addition to a salad, as almost all of the prickly pear cactus is edible in one form or another.

The flowers will soon disappear, giving way to fruit. By summer, the fruit will be bright red and ready for the picking. The pads can be harvested any time of year for nopalitas. They are delicious in a cold salad, or cooked in an omelette. Read more

Gila County live-forever

Gila County live-forever

(Dudleya collomiae)

I have many thanks to my botanist friend who has kindly offered me more accurate information on my wildflower images.

He has provided scientific names for the flora that he has been able to identify, whereas I had too often only used the local nicknames. In some cases I had totally misidentified said wildflower.

This succulent flower is actually a native plant, unique to this area of Arizona. While it is named for Gila County, this plant was located in Pinal County, which borders Gila. It was found in the Tonto National Forest, and large parts of Tonto are located in Gila County.

The leaves do resemble aloe, but the plants are distant cousins at best. From his email to me:

A quicker identification on the succulent plant. It is Gila County live-forever (Dudleya collomiae; sometimes also known as Dudleya saxosa subspecies collomiae) in the stonecrop family (Crassulaceae). It is not common, being endemic to Arizona. Species in the stonecrop family are not related to aloes but they can sometimes certainly resemble aloes, especially the leaves.
  A nice sidebar here is the life of Rose E. Collom (1870-1956), the botanist for whom the species honors. Rose Collom’s original specimen of the species is at the Smithsonian and can be viewed here ( The genus name honors William Russel Dudley (1849-1911), botanist who taught at Cornell Univ., Univ. of Indiana, and Stanford Univ. (see