More than two dozen U.S. states have an official “state beverage” and it has been proposed that Arizona adopt lemonade as ours.  As it happens, House Bill 2692, cleared the Arizona state House in February on a 57-3 vote. Other bevs being proposed for AZ include the margarita and sun tea — both worthy candidates in our humble view, but I had lemons aplenty, courtesy of my friends and neighbors.

The basic recipe is simplicity itself:

1 cup juice (6-8 lemons)
1 cup sugar
6 cups cold water (though some say 4 cups)

You squeeze the lemons in a juicer, pour everything into a goodly sized glass container and microwave the concoction to dissolve the sugar. (You could boil the ingredients in a pan on the stove, as I did in my Saudi winemaking days¹, but that was mostly for lack of a microwave…and quite messy).

Being something of a would-be lemonade maestro myself, one morning I cobbled the few simple ingredients together into every kind of measuring cup I could find. My problem, however, was that I didn’t have a goodly size jug that would fit in my microwave. This meant I had to measure out numerous mic-sized glass jars while I kept track of the proportions. (And I’m not known for math prowess.)

An hour later, after turning my my innocent kitchen into a sort of Frankenstein/Rube Goldberg factory of measuring cups, spilled sugar, lemon rinds, two kinds of funnels and my electric juicer, the project was completed with pretty good results, if I do say so myself.

All that was left was to find a suitably chic glass. And what could be more fitting than the beloved heirloom Waterford crystal that my mom used for fancy dinner parties!


¹ Don’t tell the Saudis…I’m not sure if there’s a statute of limitations on illicit winemaking.

Chateau La Feets











Next up: Orangezilla!


𝘎𝘰𝘰𝘥 𝘕𝘦𝘸𝘴 For You Lent-oholics

Quick . . . someone call the Pope!

Since my fans have expressed such an interest in all-things-Lent, I thought I’d present the results of my recent research (after a discussion with my sister who apparently is not really giving anything up but simply going through the rooms of her house to throw stuff out. Sheesh.)

See, in my March 6 post about what I may (or may not) be forsaking, I tipped you off to a little-known quirk about “weekends off” in the official Rules For Lent—you know, that time when people pretend to “give up something they like” for theologically obscure reasons.

First off, to get the official definition of Lent, we started with the unabridged OED, which as you can see is printed in such teeny tiny type that it actually takes a magnifying glass to read…

…thus the photo is not as sharp as one would like, but it says “the period including 40 weekdays…”

𝘤𝘭𝘪𝘤𝘬 𝘰𝘯 𝘱𝘪𝘤 𝘵𝘰 𝘦𝘯𝘭𝘢𝘳𝘨𝘦 (𝘪𝘧 𝘺𝘰𝘶 𝘥𝘢𝘳𝘦)

But wait . . . what constitutes a “weekday” . . . and thus a potential Lent-free weekend?

So next stop: the so-called “Dutch Catechism.”¹

…which doesn’t actually tell us a lot, other than “40 days”

So at this point we are forced to consult the most authoritative calendar in Christendom: my sister’s annual family calendar . . .

…with very odd results.

It seems there are 46 full days from Ash Wed. to Easter Eve (that is, Ash Wed. through the Saturday before Easter Sunday).

Side note: Starting on “Ash Thursday”² and removing Sundays leaves 39 days; so too with Saturdays. But presumably Lent starts on Ash Wed.

Now, if you include Ash Wed. you get the full 40 days, excluding either Saturdays or Sundays.

So the big question is: Which day are you allowed to break the Lenten fast and eat your favorite chocolate treats, sneak a glass of beer or a non-medical smoke or, well, whatever you’ve putatively given up?

According to most national customs, Sunday³ is actually the first day of the week, which would seem to leave Saturday as a non-weekday. However, excluding Saturdays actually leaves us with a dreadful “39 days of Lent.”

Someone needs to get in touch with the Pope4 to settle this critical theological issue so we can get down to the business of legally interrupting our Lenten deals covenants in good, um, faith.

¹ De Nieuwe Katechismus, commissioned by the Hierarchy of the Netherlands (whatever that is).
² Ash Thursday? Ok, I made that up.
³ and according to an authoritative source, Lent does not include Sundays because Sunday is actually a sort of mini-Easter, whatever that means, and so would not count as a “weekend” day by the Church.
4  But not this Pope

Lenten challenge: you decide!

Lent* is officially here and I find myself inspired to give something up—but so soooo many items to choose from. Perhaps you could adjudicate among the following options for me to forgo for 40 days.

■ Speaking in tongues to the neighborhood cats

■ Drinking the water in Mexico

■ Pretending to flinch when someone comes up behind me

■ Sardines (alt give-up: Kale)

■ Polishing my fake fruit

■ Making prank “citizens arrests” 

■ Doing my famous (but much beloved) Elvis impersonation (“Thankyewverymuch”)

■ Vigilante homeland security operations

■ Vigilante freeway “highway patrol” operations

■ Random “hand origami” creations

■ Breathing underwater (I’ve only mastered the “breathing out” part to date)

■ Performing taxidermy experiments on my stuffed animals

■ Bringing my recipe for “Smoke-infused Cajun Lenten Perch” (basically, perch that is flaming on the stove due to neglect) to Lenten parties

■ Using the Jedi mind trick on snakes (it’s good to learn from mistakes)

* the term comes from Old English lengten or lengthu (“length”): (American Heritage Dictionary); and Middle English lenten, c. 1275: “the season of spring”: OED.  Later co-opted by the Church to indicate the 40 weekdays from Ash Wednesday to Easter. Wait a dang minute! Weekdays, you say? Does this mean I can satisfy my lust for Elvis impersonations and Jedi mind tricks on weekends?
Note: all photos exc. the Dummies cover and kale, ©James Veihdeffer

The Tennis Clench

I was going through a recent issue of Tennis magazine which talked about some of the current stars of this sports world when I was reminded of a sports cliché that seems peculiar to this sport. But first…

Football has the end zone ball spike and victory dance.

Soccer has the “knee slide.” (The player who just scored races to the sidelines and executes a perfect smooth slide toward the fans in the stands.)

Basketball has the post-dunk “growl” (and, of course, “the flop” but soccer does that so much better).

Baseball, currently, has “the beard. (And the fist bump.)



But tennis, oh tennis, has a gesture cliché that is so pervasive that it seems to be made specifically for the sport. It’s a “kinesic”* that combines a sort of old-school-tennis sportsmanlike restraint with tension-release. No spiking of the ball, no victory dance, no in-your-face growl. Here’s just a sample of the pix I found in one issue.




































Ice hockey used to have a sort of cliché move—jerking an opposing player’s jersey over his head so you can punch him—but I’m told by a reputable source (the team dentist for the Ontario Hockey League Erie Otters) that this is frowned upon these days.

Now, it seems that if having an archetypal move is a marker that your sport is big time, perhaps the somewhat lesser (no offense) sports—say, water polo, pickleball, lacrosse, cricket, curling, gymnastics, ice skating, crew, bowling, badminton, toe wrestling, et al— could adopt a characteristic signal in order to advance their progress to world class status.

E.g., water polo stars could dive down and come flying out of the water like synchronized swimmers; badminton luminaries could stuff the shuttlecock in their mouths; bowlers could fling their balls into the stands.

Well…Ok, admittedly these are just quick, off-the-cuff, not very well thought out ideas But perhaps you can be the one to come up with something that will take your sport to the Bigs.

* strictly speaking, the noun ‘kinesics’ is the study of body motion communication. But since I studied with the “father of Kinesics, Prof. Ray Birdwhistell at Penn, I wanted to work it in even if I had to coin a new usage.
Yeah, toe wrestling is real.

Adventures in Interlibary Loan

First off, I should say that I’m a big fan of libraries (or libaries as I like to tease college libarians who visit my classroom to instruct in MLA citation techniques). I actually worked as a minion at the Erie Public Library one year.*

And I’m also a fan of the Phoenix Public Library, despite the sprinkler system disaster a couple years ago

Recently I placed an Interlibrary Loan (ILL) request for a book on hypnosis.

Now, I’ve been an amateur student of the subject since my Psychology days in college and this particular book was cited in another text I’d been reading so I thought I’d take a look at it for free.

Success! It turns out the Phoenix Library could get it through the ILL. A couple weeks after the request, I got an email, dated 29 January, that the book was obtained, was being “processed” and should be at my neighborhood branch (Acacia) in “3 to 7 days.”**

I really like my local branch. It’s an easy 15-minute bike ride and the folks there are always helpful. And when my Internet goes down, the branch is a handy place to work.

So on 11 Feb., thirteen days later, I biked on over to pick the book up. Alas, the desk librarian could find nothing there. He hunted around and checked his computer and hunted around some more. No book. I found a couple DVDs to make the trip worthwhile and headed home.

But I was curious. Was the book still being “processed”? Did it get lost in transit from the main library to Acacia branch? I called the number listed in the email for such things and got a very nice man who admitted that he had no idea. I said (politely, as I’m well known for) something like, “Don’t you folks have very big computers that track such things?” He suggested I talk to the Acacia branch and transferred me over. Over at Acacia they looked around and said “Oh, yes, the book is here.”

Hmmm…I wondered again.

Phone call:

Me: “Why couldn’t the desk person find it when I made a special trip a few days ago”?

Acacia: “Oh, he’s new and didn’t realize it was in interlibrary loan.”

So I biked on over again yesterday and asked about it.

Here’s how it went down.


Acacia: “Sorry, we don’t have it.”

Me: “Could you keep looking? See, here’s the email…”

Acacia: (hunting around for 2 or 3 minutes). “No, we don’t seem to have it.”

Three minutes later…

Acacia: “Oh wait, is this it?”

Me: “Yep.”

It actually took a minute to make a positive ID on the book because, interestingly (and I hate to be picky since I’m well known for my non-pickiness), the Kansas library where the book apparently originated had decided to paste their ILL sticker in the one place on the entire cover that would manage to hide the title and graphic.

It took me about an hour and a half to skim through the book to check on some ideas so all-in-all it was a pretty good deal after all. I get some bicycle exercise, borrow some DVDs for free, get a book I’m curious about for free, get some more bike exercise and satisfy my curiosity (well-known) as to why my dad couldn’t hypnotize me when I was a lad.

*As I recall, I was also going to grad school and working for Equifax as a part-time private investigator at the time. I’m not sure which of the three occupations was most exciting.
**The Inner Source : Exploring Hypnosis has been processed at the Interlibrary Loan office and will be sent
to the Acacia Library located at 750 E. Townley Ave..
Your item will be available for pick up at the customer service desk at
Acacia Library three to seven days from the date of this

Holy Wine Wars (Part Dieu)

Recently, we took a close look at some infamous Wine War rivals vying for your vinological investment. However, sometimes it takes a cool-headed mediator rather than a “stable genius” to bring opposing parties to the table for reconciliation in the time-honored spirit of rapprochement.*

Just for safety’s sake, though, we’re keeping these two on separate racks.

*rapprochement, comes from the French word rapprocher (“to bring together”) meaning a re-establishment of cordial relations, as between two countries…or two theological wine factions. Just thought I’d save you the trouble of looking it up.

It’s all about angle and light

My evil HOA decided to chop down a perfectly good 40-foot pine tree a week ago. They said it was a hazard, based on the fact that a similar tree that was situated on irrigated, stony ground was felled by a summer monsoon. I consulted my own certified arborist who advised that the tree was just fine–just needed a good trimming to make it less of a windblock during a storm.*

Now, in addition to killing a living tree that had been minding its own business for 20 to 25 years (based on the ring count), this lovely tree provided a nice shading effect for my south-facing pool window. The only plus I can think of is that the 10am sunlight pouring through the window gave me the following photo opportunity.

What a difference a simple change of angle and sun (and a healthy zoom lens) can make!

*One resident wrote an email to the HOA property manager in what can only be imagined as a sarcastic tone the manager apparently missed completely: “To be completely safe, how about just cutting down all the trees in the community?” (There are 31 good-sized trees in the HOA area).