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.)





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!

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.

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).



Holy Wine Wars

Can’t we all just get along? Apparently the divisiveness that is plaguing America the last couple years has alarmingly spread to the world of wine like a wild fire.

(click on pix to enlarge)

Specifically, take a look at how these forces of good and evil are lining up against each other in an apocalyptic vinological smackdown.

Let’s look at the blessed side first.

Our Daily Red (far left): Matthewy notes with structured tones of manna, coriander seed and honey.

Pontificis: clerical palate with hints of incense and the herb-forward aroma of Brother Juniper and black pepper with a not-too-molest’y finish

St. Somewhere: Fruity, bright and approachable, with hospital notes but not too medicine’y…perhaps a bit too approachable?

Now, on the…shall we say, less-blessed team:

Il Brutto: Primativo based on practically raw under-fermented grapes that make you want to call out “Et tu!”

Handsome Devil (above): Malbec with more than a bit of attitude, rather fond of its plum notes and wine-about-town-finish.

Girl & Dragon (above): another malbec, fresh and fragrant owing to a pleasant underlying acidity which lends it vigor and persistence on the palate.

Alas for the blessed ones, the darksiders, like some WWE tag team have scrambled in a reinforcement to tip the scales:

Troublemaker (red blend): Complete absence of mango, lemon, buttery almond and Fuji apple.

But what’s this? Santa Maria red altar wine from the renowned Iowa grape-growing terroir—home of “valid” sacramental wines. Apparently the heavenly choirs (or choir boys) have their own ringer. Somehow this just doesn’t seem like they’re playing fair!








But now the apostates have their own ringer in the form of…

Lazy Bones: Cabernet Franc – blending a slothful cabernet sauvignon that simply can’t decide if it even wants to register on the palate with ne’er-do-well merlot that finishes haphazardly in the Bordeaux style.

And ruh roh: now The Velvet Devil appears in the garden to lure you into experiencing classic peach and apricot flavors along with the slate and chalk of the soil. What! No apple notes?Hold on though, Sacred Vine blasts back with its Ashwaubenon, Wisconsin-bred zinfandel. (Honing in on the communion wine market niche, the public can also buy unconsecrated bottles.)

And get ready for some hearty Old Testament fear and trembling with New Zealand’s Prophecy, offering a palate of earth, knotty leather and deep-woods tart cherry.With these contenders fighting it out like some ill-boding Patmos*-inspired doomsday scenario, what’s a peace-loving wine lover to do to?

Stop the fighting! JV Estates: Chateau La Feet to the rescue: the grapes were nurtured somewhere between the sands of Saudi Arabia and the dry washes of Arizona. Hints of cherry, asparagus, chocolate and la connerie— makes a wonderful pairing with Fried Bologna Surprise.**  

* For you bible-illiterates, John of Patmos (St. John the theologian) is said to have written his Book of Revelations on this island in the Aegean.
** The recipe can be found in Stories I Never Told My Family.
Note on the wine notes: Much of the delightful descriptive verbiage is taken directly from actual printed wine note blathering liberated from Ground Control (Litchfield Park, AZ); Direct Cellars; and Toasted Cork (Scottsdale)though not necessarily from any of their wines. And, of course, much of it is simple parody.