March 27, 2017

My neighbor John and I were talking last night about the bougainvillea all around the subdivision and how we’ve never seen anything like it as long as we can remember. I think it must be because we’ve had the unlikely combination of a wet winter without anything close to a freeze. Has to be, because the bougainvillea are thick and bountiful no matter where you look. Here’s what our front looks like, the prayer grove’s natural archway as maintained by our landscaper Carmelo:

..then, on the other side of the same wall, the bougainvillea as viewed from our cactus garden. The yellow ones I planted a decade ago are having their best year ever and reaching up to join the red ones cascading over the wall:

Pretty, ain’t it?

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:03 | Comment (1)
March 22, 2017

March in the Valley of the Sun is chock-full of frenzied activity. With “Arizona winter” for all intents over, and the first nineties of the year only hinting at the bigger heat to come, there is much to do. The literally hundreds upon hundreds of A/C companies are in the midst of their busiest stretch of the year, selling and installing new systems, and running maintenance checks. For swimming pool owners, it’s the most common month of the year to do drainings, acid washes and refills. Landscapers are busy planting trees and new bushes – it’s the perfect time of the year for new plantings to get established before the heat comes on.

And that’s sorta what this whole week has been like. Monday we welcomed into our backyard a brand new queen palm that would balance off the existing one on that middle area I was calling “the strand”. On Tuesday Daniel from Hawkeye Landscaping show up with a crew to spread 1 1/4 tons of light rock on top of the old, darker stuff; there was so much rock they were able to make it look more like a tropic island than a strand. Today was a busy day: a morning visit by pool bodhisattva Alan to start draining the pool and collecting our vacuum for refurbishing, and in the afternoon the first of what will be many visits to the dentist by my sister-in-law; we’re finally getting around to get her long-neglected teeth issues taken care of. All I can say is, poor Tam, I’m glad it’s not me!

Tomorrow (Thursday), it’s back to pool care with the bead blaster guy coming to remove the calcium ring from around our pebble-tec pool surface, then in the afternoon our A/C guy is coming to do their spring maintenance call. On Friday, P.B. Alan reenters the dharma of pool maintenance to start refilling the pool and checking the filter’s O-rings to see why we’re getting a small flow of dirty water back in the pool whenever I do a backwash. By that time the pool vacuum will be fixed and we’ll be back in business.

This weekend the weather looks to be both calm and warm, so I’m planning on repainting our brown wicker furniture and green patio set white. I’ve never attempted this kind of thing before, but I’ve been doing my research and believe I’m up for it, so it promises to be both a learning and (hopefully) rewarding experience.

Once all of this is done, I’ll only have a few precious weeks before the heat returns to stay to wash down and re-stain the tiki bar and the tiki bar deck, then spray with preservative all our decorative signs, silk flowers, and anything else that needs to be protected from fading.

So much to do, so much left to be done! I still need to get back to the more inside work of consolidating our living trust documents and getting them to the lawyer for review, and Tracey needs to finish our taxes. Our reward for getting that stuff done? Getting our firearms safety training certifications out of the way so we can buy the guns we’ve been looking at and start target practice at the range just up the road.

After such a dreadful last year it’s fun to simply be doing stuff that doesn’t require a whole lot of emotional investment.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:14 | Comments Off on March Madness
March 19, 2017

It has been a beautiful weekend here in the Valley of the Sun – temps in the mid-90s, the air still fragrant with fruit tree flowers. We have a sparrow nest in the lemon tree and the babies are hungry all day. Not doing much today – just relaxing ahead of what promises to be a busy (and expensive) week. I’m still only operating at ~ 80% and I’ve got a physical in two weeks to see what might be going on. Still, it’s a perfect time to toss out a few observations and links.

The Arnold Palmer Invitational finishes up today, so here’s a nice story about “The King” and his legacy.

R.I.P, Chuck Berry. He had a huge influence on a lot of bands – the Stones, The Beatles, and the Beach Boys to name just a few. From what I’ve read he could be a total a$$hole as a person, but there’s no doubt of his impact and lasting influence in rock n’ roll.

R.I.P. Robert Osborne of Turner Classic Movies. When you watched him introduce movies you felt like he was a guest in your home. He just oozed those qualities of grace, taste, class, and appreciation that are almost non-existent these days. His kind and his generation is rapidly disappearing before our very eyes, leaving those of us who can truly appreciate what those qualities are and the impact they had on this country and to our value system feeling like a bunch of dinosaurs. I’m just glad I’m of an age where I could appreciate and experience it all, because I don’t much like the world I live in.

This is both fascinating and frightening at the same time. While dropping the bombs on Japan was the right thing to do at the time, here’s hoping no one ever has to use these things again. Next time I go to Vegas I gotta go see the atomic testing museum there. It’s right off of Flamingo above Paradise.

Just finished reading biographies of both Bob Marley and George Harrison. While they were both very different people and from very different cultures, I now know why I find them both such captivating musical icons. They were both very spiritual people trying to find the fine line between their earthy success and spiritual sides. In George’s case, he was always trying to break free of the long shadow his Beatles past cast; in Bob’s case, he was endlessly touring to support his music as a way to express his creative muse and deliver his Rastafari religious message of peace and love to the masses. But both had a huge impact on what we now call “world music” to this day: Harrison introducing the western world to Ravi Shankar and Indian music, and Marley through popularizing reggae music and his message of black empowerment and liberation.

Golf is hard. Maybe one of these days I’ll pick the game back up again, but boy, am I still feeling haunted by those shanks I had in Vegas.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 12:33 | Comments (3)
March 18, 2017

Strand: the land bordering a body of water.

Weekend talk radio in the Valley of the Sun is, I think, fairly unique in its programming given the culture, lifestyles, and demographics of the area. We’ve got lots of retirees down here, so there’s lots of programming about retirement planning, financial and stock portfolio management, quacks selling all kinds of products designed to make you feel younger and healthier, golf talk (not as interesting as one might think), and – of course – real estate. Most of the time it’s all half-listened to – especially now that Tracey and I are well ahead of the retirement planning game, which means I don’t have to feel guilty while someone is promoting his or her services and upcoming events complete with the inevitable and free chocolate chip cookies.

But every now and then, something someone is says something that breaks through the noise and causes you to pay attention, even if it is for the briefest of moments. In this case it was a Saturday real estate show featuring a lady named Carol Royce who is a well-known real estate agent around these parts who nationally advertises with the slogan, “Carol Has The Buyers”. She’s obviously pretty successful, but it wasn’t her selling technique or the properties she was presently seeking buyers for that caught my attention; it was what she was talking about as far as properties and first impressions go.

Basically, her view was that, what people first see outside your back door as seen from inside the house makes a powerful statement about your property and how that property relates to the kind of potential lifestyle the house represents. For example, if the whole idea of your house is a turnkey operation requiring very little in the way of maintenance and upkeep (perfect, in other words, for snowbirds with an active lifestyle) the view out the backdoor should reflect that: austere, no pool, not a lot of foliage, lots of rock. It’s not necessary that everything has to have a theme or has to make a statement, but if it does and is well appointed and represented, your house stands a much greater chance of being sold.

Not we’re not interested in selling our house – at least for the foreseeable future – but it did get me thinking about the backyard. Primarily thanks to the initial owners we bought the house from, the backyard was already nicely designed: walking out onto the patio there was a lawn area under a big mesquite tree with a large sandbox (they called it their “beach”) to the right, the pool deck just off center left, and then the swimming pool on the left. There was a large palm tree straight ahead and three more palms in the far left corner. With a palate like that to start with, it became pretty easy to create my idea of a whimsical “St. Somewhere” kind of tropical paradise. The patio was redesigned and painted in colors and appointed in a sort of Caribbean / Margaritaville theme, and the sandbox was filled with a tiki bar and various tikis to create a Hawaii / South Seas kind of motif:

To push the theme even further, I supplemented the palm trees with mini date palms interspersed between the desert bushes already planted along the back and side walls. (You can see one of them along the west wall in the above pic.)

In and of itself, that was probably good enough, but after listening to that real estate show I took another look at the backyard through the doors from our kitchen and saw that more could be done to the area separating the right and left sides that was created when I redesigned the lawn area last year to reduce its overall size, align it with the tiki bar area, and make it easier to water. I now had a larger area that was basically sitting there and doing nothing, practically begging for a re-do. Presently, the area was a jumble: the big palm, two good-sized cactus I had grown from scratch, a funky piece of metal art in the shape of a large roadrunner, two red yuccas left over from when the area was a lot narrower, and a chiminea we rarely used.

Originally, the thought was that the area could perhaps be used for an in-ground barbecue, but discussing it over with my landscaping guru Daniel from Hawkeye Landscaping (he and I have overseen all the major landscaping projects ever since we came here, starting with the east yard, the front yard restore following our sewer line replacement), and the backyard irrigation system replacement and lawn redesign) we decided that the area was too small for the typical size of BBQ you see around these parts, and that between the yard as presently constructed and our lifestyle we really didn’t need to go that route.

So what to do? He agreed with my desire to create a strand: a big, bright, open area with clean lines that would stand out simply by its very openness. The first step would be to remove the two red yuccas left over from when the area was a lot narrower. The roadrunner, of course, had to go – it could be moved to the cactus garden on the west side of the house where it could add a splash of color and whimsy when you’re looking out one of the living-room windows. Same thing with the chiminea: there was a spot at the entry to the cactus garden where it could kinda sorta fit in (at least for now). Daniel liked my idea of planting a new palm tree on the right side as a companion to the one on the left. We could then add another spot light so that it, like the other palm, could be lit up at night. And, we would get rid of all the old brown rock and replace it with the lighter, almost but not quite white rock used when the lawn was downsized and re-bordered. And once that was done, the final touch would be a good-sized, smiling tiki that would give off this new bright and open area positive vibes. Tracey’s contribution was to suggest that we emphasize the theme of bright and open by replacing all our current patio furniture (brown wicker and green metal) with white.

So how will it look when all is said and done? Stay tuned…

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 13:31 | Comments (2)
March 16, 2017

Bodhisattva: A person who has attained prajna, or Enlightenment, but who postpones Nirvana in order to help others to attain Enlightenment.

Alan is the man. A true swimming pool bodhisattva if there ever was one. Alan is (I’m guessing) in his late mid to late sixties. Used to be a corporate guy in an earlier life who did pool maintenance on the side before he decided to retire for the first time, doing pool consulting work for a local firm, Cactus Valley Pools, before they got bought out by a company called Poolwerx. Not wanting to get caught up in the mumbo-jumbo of corporate takeovers, Alan then decided to retire for a second time, only to discover yet again that one can only do so much traveling, gardening, and golfing before you miss being in the gameaction. When Poolwerx encouraged Jeff, the manager of the old Cactus Valley I used to frequent, to take over his old store, they asked him if there was anyone else he’d like to bring back. Alan was the first name off his lips. Alan accepted. He was back in the game.

It was Alan who drained our pool for the first time a decade ago. Alan who replaced our old cartridge filter with a sand media filter three years ago. Alan who saved us a thousand bucks by suggesting he could caulk the big cracks that appeared in the pool’s decorative border where no one could see and came by on four successive days at the crack of dawn to add a new layer of caulk so it could dry before the heat came up. Alan who suggested how much the pool water could be safely drained two summers ago before it was covered over when we had our bee infestation.

And it’s not just us: Jeff at the Poolwerx store estimates that there isn’t a pebble-tech pool within ten square miles of the branch that Alan hasn’t either seen and serviced. And given the value a well-maintained pool means to one’s property here in the Valley of the Sun, someone like Alan is right up there, somewhere behind your A/C guy and next to your landscaper. He’s invaluable. And, as a result, expensive. Because owing an in-ground swimming pool is just like owning a boat. Expensive to operate, expensive to keep up. And, like a boat, you have to keep it up and stay on top of it; if you don’t both can get away from you and real fast.

In the grand scheme of the swimming pool universe, there are lucky pool owners and unlucky ones. The unlucky ones find themselves battling with one problem after another: green water, gray water, black water, chlorine and acid level imbalances, filter issues that never seem to go away. Fortunately, we’ve always seemed to live on the charmed side of that coin: outside of the occasional chlorine shock and going through several incarnations of pool vacuums (all expensive) before finding the right one for our particular size and shape, the pool basically runs itself. Keep the chlorine container filled, add a cupful of phos-free every week once the real heat comes in, and the water always looks good. For whatever reason, our pool light has never worked longer than a month or so after replacing the bulb (another expensive item!) but that’s never been a big deal. A lot of it is just being lucky and being diligent when it comes to sweeping the floor and the sides of the dirt that accumulates, but I have to think a lot of it also has to do with being able to rely on Alan’s expertise.

I usually see Alan every two years on the odd year, because it’s every two years we replace the water and start all over again. This past Tuesday was our day, which meant two things: 1) an enjoyable conversation by the pool catching up on things, and 2) lots of money about to be spent. That’s just the way it is.

First on the list was the pool water level regulator: I could never figure it out, and had resorted to using the garden hose to fill the pool to its normal level after the one that had worked so damned well for ages finally gave out last fall. Alan took one look at it, had it properly adjusted in a minute’s time.

Alan then noticed that the pool vacuum seemed to be only doing one section of the pool. “How long has that been happening?”, he asked. I told him I couldn’t remember. “It probably needs its bearing and runners adjusted”, he says. “I have the same model and mine goes all over the place. I’ll take care of that when I drain the pool.”

I wanted Alan to take a look at the calcium ring where an older, higher water level used to be. “I can get a guy to bead-blast (how’s that for a term!) it for you. It’ll cost, though…”. “What doesn’t?”, says I. “He won’t be able to blast the calcium line on the pool deck surface, it’ll rip it all to hell”, Alan cautioned. I told him that was OK, we’ll leave as is – pool deck resurfacing is on the backyard to-do list for next year.

Alan remarked how good the pool looked overall and said I wouldn’t need to have it acid-washed once the water is drained, which was good news – $130 that won’t need to be spent. He asked how often I backwashed the filter, and I told him every 3-4 weeks unless things get really dusty during the monsoon season. He gave a nod. A good sign, until I casually mentioned how, after my last backwash this past weekend, a stream of dirty water went back into the pool after I had started the filter back up again. Alan frowned. Not a good sign.

“How long did you backwash it for?”

“Two minutes.”

“Well, I’m going to have to check your filter pipes.”

Alan proceeds to tell me there are three sets of O-rings (I immediately start thinking of the space shuttle Challenger and what bad O-rings did to that) and how they probably need replacing. Not big money, fortunately, but time, and Alan’s time is, of course, money. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned when it comes to swimming pools and Alan: if he advises something, don’t think, just grab the check book.

We arrange for Alan’s planned visit next week to recheck the water level regulator, drain the pool, take the vacuum back for servicing, and check the filter O-rings. That’s enough for this year, I think. When all is said and done, we’re probably talking a grand. But a grand well spent in the grand scheme of things. Because, just like just about everything else, there is no cutting corners when it comes to swimming pools. It’s either pay me now or pay me later.

And if Alan says pay me now, well, that’s the way it goes. Because that’s the way the game is played when your house comes with an in-ground swimming pool in the Valley of the Sun.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:51 | Comments Off on The Pool Bodhisattva
March 14, 2017

Big nor’easter to hit my old stomping grounds in New England. It’ll be in the low ’90s here in the Valley of the Sun. Hmmm…which should I choose? Which should I choose?

‘Bout time on this. Like all utopian ideas, the United Nations was established with the best of intentions but it has become nothing more than a cesspool of corruption, graft, and anti-Semitism. It has accomplished zero – and I mean zero in its seventy years of existence other than to give every despot and third-world dictator a voice in internal relations.

Thursday begins the first Arnold Palmer Bay Hill Invitational since the King’s passing last fall. Here’s a nice article about the man and his legacy.

Finally, a President willing to take on the hard business of being President. If it were up to me Northern Virginia and Maryland would be the hardest hit.

We don’t have panthers around here, but if I lived in Florida they’d be OK by me.

Obamacare: Repeal, then leave things as it is so that things can go back to the way they were. That’s what I’d do, anyways. Which is why I’m catching a lot of flak from the “Trump can do no wrong” crowd over at Conservative Treehouse blog because I disagree with Trump tackling the Obamacare replacement when he should be focusing on job stimulation, tax cuts, regulations roll-backs and building the damned wall. All he’s doing by palling around with the likes of RINOs Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell is expending unnecessary political capital on something destined to be incredibly flawed no matter what final form it ultimately takes and something conservatives will never support. Healthcare coverage should NOT be the responsibility of the federal government.

I’m sure there are plenty of wealthy liberals who’d pick up the slack to keep NPR on the air. Like the UN, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting is a relic of the past and an entity that no longer needs taxpayer funding. And I would hold the same opinion were it right-leaning in its programming, which it most decidedly is not.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 01:09 | Comments Off on Tuesday Thoughts
March 11, 2017

We’re less than a month away from the Masters, and just a little over four months away from Goodboys Invitational weekend, and the only golf club I have left in my possession is my Ping Scottsdale putter. The newer Callaways I got to replace the older Callaway woods and hybrids that were stolen have been returned for a 90% refund, and my RAZR-X irons have been sold to the Golf Liquidator folks for a whopping $100, which is just about all they were worth.

In golf equipment terms, I am officially a free agent.

To those wondering what the hell happened, I guess it all started on the #6 hole at Las Vegas National a week ago Wednesday. Because we started off on the back nine, it was my fifteenth hole of the day. As mentioned in an earlier post, I was feeling like crap and battling the shanks and the yanks for the second straight day. #6 is a lovely hole – one of my favorites, actually – a slight doggy left with a good-sized landing area. I had yanked my drive way right, my ball stopping just before a ditch that marked the OB line. Meaning to just get out of trouble, I pulled a 5-iron and shanked it across the fairway and through a fence that marked OB on the left. I found my ball and pulled a 7-iron to coax it back out under the fence. Imagine my surprise when I saw being pulled out along with the 7-iron what seemed to be half the inner lining from inside my bag. Just what I needed, right? And that’s when I also noticed a hole the size of a half-dollar on the side of my bag, probably the result of one of the trips to and from Massachusetts over the years.

I didn’t know what to do. Resisting the urge to tell my playing partners I was done and just walk off the course, I stuffed the lining back inside the bag best I could and took a good look at the 7-iron I had pulled. The grip worn out, a couple of good-sized hacks at the bottom of the club, the hole in my bag, me feeling like crap. What on earth was I trying to accomplish out there? It was at that moment I knew the Callaway replacements were going back, and I was getting rid of everything else as well. I’ll admit it: this time having the shanks as bad as I did really frightened me. The yanks? I could always chalk them up to playing with woods I wasn’t yet fully familiar or comfortable with. But those shanks, and with my old reliable Callaway RAZR-X HLs? That bothered me. Still does. And not just because I didn’t know what I was doing to cause them (which I didn’t and still don’t) but because no matter what I tried to do I couldn’t fix them. I couldn’t fix me. So either I had to go, or the clubs did.

I chose the clubs.

So all the clubs are gone, except for the Ping Scottsdale. Even if we haven’t always seen eye to eye, that’s a club worth keeping and taking care of – heck, I’ve even bought a replacement cover for it.

So where do I go from here, you ask? Well, I haven’t received my invite to the Masters, so there’s no real rush to find new clubs. And even if I had clubs, I wouldn’t really start preparing for Goodboys Invitational weekend until April at the earliest. Original plans to perhaps travel to San Diego for some golf in May have been cancelled due to more important stuff, so there’s really no need to have clubs until around, say, oh, the second weekend in July when (at least theoretically) I’d be wanting to start hitting balls in Massachusetts as part of my last-minute Goodboys Invitational preparation. So I’ve got plenty of time.

More than anything else, I’m not even going to think about trying new clubs on for size until I feel a whole lot better than I do now. I’m on the mend for sure, but my legs are still shaky and I haven’t even got the strength to get back to the gym, let along try out new clubs and hit golf balls.

So I’m going to take my time this time. Maybe go down to the PGA Tour Superstore come April and have Chris do an analysis of my swing. And if I start shanking the ball again, maybe he’ll suggest I try ping-pong or tennis. And if that happens I’ll just give it all up. Hopefully, though, that won’t be the case. With my handicap (presently 27) there’s no point in spending big dough-re-mi on brandy-new clubs, but it would be nice to find clubs with only a year or two of use. Maybe I’ll look at some of the later Callaway models, but I’m thinking it’s time for a change. I like the look of the new Cobra stuff, and I still remember that set of Mizunos I played in (I think) Vegas a few years ago; they were really nice. But no matter what I end up choosing, having clubs fitted for my size and swing can’t hurt – heck, my swing coach Alex Black has been encouraging me to do that ever since we started working together.

After last week, I’m ready for a fresh start. And I’m gonna take my time going about it.

Filed in: Golf Quest by The Great White Shank at 02:35 | Comments Off on Free Agent
March 9, 2017

…because, after four weeks I’m actually starting to feel better.

Yes! Funny, while doing grocery shopping the other day I heard a Billy Joel song and was reminded for the, like millionth time, just how much I hate his music. It truly is akin to dishwater. Like anything by the Cars, it sounds old and sonically sterile. Joel’s music comes across as phony, self-serving, and all much ado about nothing. Most of all (and worst of all for an artist), it’s boring. For someone who supposedly prides himself on painting pictures about other peoples’ reality, there’s nothing real about it, as if he’s merely mouthing words because he thinks they sound good. I would never say he’s a fraud, but I think his music is fraudulent.

…that being said, I do admit to liking “A Matter of Trust”, but it’s mostly because of the grungy guitar that drives the song. It certainly isn’t that dopey, pretentious count-in.

It’s about time someone at the USGA started talking sense about how far the guys on the PGA Tour are hitting the ball and what to do about it. The answer is not in lengthening courses – all that does is push the technology even further. You’ve got all these beautiful courses out there designed by people with the character of the course in mind – courses that deserve to be seen and played by today’s athletes that simply cannot be because of how far they can hit the ball. Not only that, technology has destroyed the character of the game: all it is now is bash the ball as far as you can hit it without worrying about being penalized for it. What good is that?

Regarding President Trump’s and the GOP’s push for replacing Obamacare, I’m going to sit back and see what happens. For one thing, the GOP’s options are fairly limited because there’s no way on earth they’ll get 60 votes in the Senate for approval – heck, I would argue it’ll never get to the Senate for a vote because it’s pointless. The way I see it, I think the GOP will chip away at the mandatory parts of Obamacare, then have a final bill they know will go down to defeat, but one that ultimately compares favorably with its predecessor. Then the GOP will use Obamacare as a wedge issue in the 2018 midterms to bash the Dems up for re-election with the goal of picking up 5-7 seats in the Senate and getting within striking distance for full repeal in 2019.

For all you Dems and liberals out there who thought Trump’s promises to get tough on trade were nothing but a joke: this is what winning feels like.

As is this. And just to think, we’re only 40+ days in to the Trump presidency.

As is this. You know, everything the Democrats, liberals, and whiny social justice warrior snowflakes touch these days goes to crap. Makes me wonder if they’ll ever pull their heads out of their butts. I sure hope they don’t!

OK, I know it’s only early March, but there are alarm bells already going off in my head about this Red Sox team. I know on paper they have a killer outfield and are strong defensively up the middle in the infield, but David Price’s injury is going to hurt the starting ro’ much worse than folks suspect. I don’t like Pablo Sandoval at third, I don’t care how many pounds he’s supposedly shed, Mitch Moreland is nothing special at first base, and the Leon/Vasquez combo behind the plate isn’t going to make anyone shudder in fear, either. I’m going on record as saying right now that they appear to be overrated, and it wouldn’t bother me one bit were they to get off to a slow start so that manager John Farrell gets canned. He’s a lousy manager, and there’s no real depth on this team to bail him out if anyone else gets injured.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 02:12 | Comments Off on Thursday Thoughts
March 7, 2017

It’s right around the last week of February and the first two weeks in March that you can really feel spring taking hold here in the Valley of the Sun. The nights have gone from chilly to just cool, but it is the days – whenever the sun is out, that is – that you notice the seasons are changing. There’s lots of mourning dove action – I see them all along our east and south walls by the pool where they queue up for drinks from the pool fountain. The sun is warm – very warm, actually – and if you’re going to go out now is the time to start putting on the sun screen. More than anything else, however, it is the fruit trees and the lovely sweet fragrance their tiny white flowers give off. Our lemon and lime trees look to be getting ready for a banner year, as is our neighbor’s grapefruit tree just over the west wall. No tree has as strong a fragrance, however, as the mock orange or nectarine tree I walk past on the way to the mail box. To stand there with your eyes closed, the sun warm on your face, and a soft breeze moving the fragrance around: that’s an experience about as close to heaven as I can imagine.

I wish I felt 100% in order to appreciate this time of year but I don’t. The antibiotics I’ve been on since Friday are definitely helping: I no longer feel like sleeping the entire day and I’m not nearly as miserable as I was at this time last week. Each night I take a small glass of Pinot Grigio waiting for it to taste something close to good, and tonight was the first time it didn’t seem to have that harsh, nasty edge to it. So maybe I am coming along.

There’s so much work to do in and outside the house and I’ve have four weeks of nonexistence, with lots of things sliding. If I can only get better maybe I can find time to actually spend some time outside – after all, it’s one of the best times of the year.

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 22:10 | Comments Off on A Nice Time Of The Year
March 4, 2017

Hard to believe after four weeks I’m still sick. It’s hard to do just about anything, let along blogging, so I figure I’d just use this post to let everyone know I’m still around. I’ve finally got some antibiotics being pumped into me, and I’ve got a prescription-strength cough suppressant / expectorant that I’m waiting patiently to have some meaningful impact. But a few comments that I think are worth tossing out there.

…so I’m hooked on the Doc Ford series of novels by Randy Wayne White. I had picked up his book “Cuba Straits” at the airport on my way back from Massachusetts in October. I’m normally not one for fiction, but facing a six-hour flight and seeing not much else in the way of reading material I decided to take a chance and found I actually enjoyed it. I just finished “The Man Who Invented Florida” and found it equally enjoyable. White’s series revolves around a group of main characters based in the Sanibel Island section of southwest Florida, which is tropical enough for me. He’s a fun author to read and I’ll probably end up getting all the books in due time.

While dead in bed during my stay at the Wynn Las Vegas, I had a chance to watch some Grapefruit League and MLB Network coverage, and I’m here to tell you the New York Yankees are going to surprise a lot of folks this year. They have a ton of young talent, and while I’m no Yankees fan by any stretch of the imagination, you have to respect talent.

So it’s true: the 2016 presidential election was hacked after all. It’s just that it wasn’t by the Russians, as the Democrats have been pushing from day one, but by the Obama administration. If what President Trump is accusing the Obama administration of is true – and I have to believe he wouldn’t be making such serious accusations if he didn’t have some measure of factual evidence to rely upon – then Obama administration folks at the highest levels have some ‘splainin’ to do. It certainly paints that meeting between Obama AG Loretta Lynch and Bill Clinton on the tarmac at Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport in whole different light..

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 20:01 | Comments Off on Weekending


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