Friday Flyday

…in which we take a break from all the smarmy politics going on to look at some more quirky photos from the Cam about town.”

Arizona Canal: looks like the new presidentially appointed Duck Force is heading upstream to take care of business.







Meanwhile, if you can’t see the moon from your house, you can catch a glimpse from the reflection in your neighbor’s 2nd floor window.








Something you never want to come home to: a fly infestation. After consulting with a friendly extermination company, we determined that one or more of my bay window house plants somehow became a fly nursery. After exiling all the plants to the front walkway and hitting up the helpful neighborhood landscape company (Whitfill Nursery), I got just about every kind of fly trap and glue mat available.Within two days, the problem was (more or less) solved. On the plus side, I got some excellent shots of flies frozen in the act of trying to be pests.









Back to the canal, ya just never know what sort of weird debris you’re gonna find on your morning bike ride. Someone left behind some 30 dental floss holders, along with various lotions and, yes, a folded-up bra.  One can only imagine…or better yet…let’s not.

Here we have, in a totally different spot, an odd assortment of what might be described as “lady stuff” — some lady shoes, a black eyeshade and a girly purse. I would tell you more but, frankly, I wasn’t in the mood to do a hands-on forensics exam.

Ruh roh…busted!

all photos © 2019 Jim Veihdeffer
Bonus: full moon and water line break at 12:35am (I should really have been tucked into bed but I fell asleep in my easy chair and happened to wake up just in time.)





Ask the Witch-Answer Guy: Part 6

A concerned public servant who desires to remain anonymous wishes to know:

Q: “How much longer will this WITCH HUNT go on for? Despite their best efforts, names that I won’t bother to name…except they’re bad, very bad, the worst, totally FAKE, even worse than Mexicans and that Cryin’ So & So…they can’t seem to let it go, they just keep fishing.”

A: First off, you don’t need the superfluous* “for” at the end of the first sentence. Next, if you start with a “witch” metaphor you can’t end with a “fishing” metaphor. But to answer your question: The “hunt” will go on till the cover-up is “up.”

Oh, and can you lose the lame all-caps typing?

All text as received via email, except for italics, which the Witch-Answer Guy might have inserted.
* unneeded, not necessary, redundant, gratuitous

Quirky Pix from the “Cam About Town”

Thanks to the invention of the cell phone camera, I’ve had the opportunity to capture a variety of quirky…um…items in my travels around the Valley of the Sun, over the past couple weeks. None of these were staged, though some cropping and contrast control have been used.

First off: this is a real deal: the man is actually standing there, just as you see him outside the Tempe Center for the Arts. It is, of course, an optical illusion as you’ll see from the footnote section*. The image is a bit blurry because I was shooting from inside the Center’s small cafe through windows.








Next up: a shoe, near a sidewalk. Even when you see the full scene* it doesn’t make much more sense.

These next two shots are at Scottsdale Civic Plaza. I’ve cropped the yoga shot (Scottsdale Arts Festival) a bit for the goofy effect. The man sleeping…well sometimes a nap on the grass is just what a Sunday afternoon concert in the park calls for. I hope he used sunscreen.











Not to worry*…(below)







My neighborhood (Sunnyslope) has a community festival and these birds were invited.

(burrowing owl)

“Nevermore” will I pose for you like this










Back in Scottsdale, the munchkins have attacked this fine blue chair*When two strangers with cameras happen to be shooting in the same area, a “grass selfie” (a term I just invented) just naturally happens.






South Scottsdale is not like your fancy schmancy “Old Town,” Kierland or “High Street.” But it does have a polo club (Rte. 101 & McDowell Rd.)

No one seems to know what this amphitheatre is being used for now at Papago Park in southeast Phoenix.* There’s no signage other than “stay on the trails” and “watch out for bees.”

The much-acclaimed Musical Instrument Museum (MIM) has this rare edition of an air guitar (at least that’s what the exhibit caption calls it.)

The MIM (well-worth a visit) has a lot of other quirky-looking instruments, like this grinning French “lyre guitar” from around 1815 (#pluckedlute)







The city of Phoenix kindly provides this handy wash basin in case you’re feeling a bit dusty. (Sunnyslope)







…and what gallery of Phoenix would be complete without the obligatory apocalyptic sunset over a tennis court (at Phoenix Tennis Center)



(Photo from Tempe Arts Center website)

(click to enlarge)










(Giving myself the blue chair treatment)


*The 3,500-seat amphitheater is said to have been constructed in 1933 by the Civilian Conservation Corps. According to Papago Park website, “the amphitheater was formerly host to Easter sunrise services, concerts, and community events, but has been out of use for roughly 50 years due to the construction of McDowell Road just to the north of it.”






…he survived


* see? it still doesn’t make sense.









…and finally, for you Good Friday fans perhaps anxiously awaiting the end of Lent (remember: weekends don’t count!), here’s a shot that a friend and I watched unfolding. Of course we both knew the planes were undoubtedly at different altitudes, but it was kind of weirdly exciting to watch.

All photos ©2019 Jim Veihdeffer except as noted


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.