Archive for the ‘Notions’ Category

Mise Èireannach

Thursday, May 5th, 2022

The title is Gaelic for “I Am Irish.” While that assertion is partially correct, both the wife and I are descendants of Scots, Irish, Welsh and English for the most part with traces of Native American and other (mostly) European ancestors. With all that disclosure out of the way, we will identify as Irish this week when we celebrate the cross-quarter feast of Beltane, about halfway between spring equinox and summer solstice.

Modern cultures that recognize Beltane typically celebrate on May Day (01 May), but the actual cross-quarter doesn’t occur until the fifth of May which is coincident with “Cinco de Mayo,” but since we have no Hispanic ancestry that we could find, we’re going with the Celtic celebration. However, due to our busy and crowded schedule as retirees, we have to postpone the festivities until the weekend (of May 07/08). Weekends are when we usually celebrate midweek holidays.

So, we will celebrate Beltane by having a traditional Irish dinner entrée of Shepherd’s Pie. Damsel found a simple recipe for “upside-down” shepherd’s pie, so we will be preparing it that way. We may also indulge in an Irish Cocktail at that time.

Sunday the 8th is, of course, Mother’s Day. Most of us retirees will wish our heavenly Mom’s a happy day in Heaven. Our Sunday meal will be Grilled Tri-Tip roast with braised cabbage and asparagus.

Cheers and Happy Cinco de Beltane to all the Mothers and Others out there.

AZ – The Venomous Critters Capital of the U.S.

Sunday, April 10th, 2022

Image: Map of U.S. showing venomous animals per state – click on the image to enlarge.

One of the guys in our AZCDL group posted this map on social media. I’m not sure about the source of the data, but this map recognizes that we’re clearly the venomous critter capital of the U.S.

I did some more research on this and found that we have many venomous critters, most of which we’ve not seen here in our little corner of the desert.

Of the thirty or more venomous animals, we have only personally seen the following few:

To be accurate, the toad isn’t actually venomous, but secretes a toxin when handled which can cause problems (i.e. psychedelic hallucinations or illness or death) for the handler. Luckily, neither we nor our dogs have been affected by any of the venoms or toxins of the local wildlife.

Of all the dangerous critters in our desert, only a few are venomous. There are cougars, bears, javelina and coyotes around this area – all can be dangerous for us and/or the dogs. Fortunately, we have only seen the latter two species on our property; javelina and coyotes unless infected with something tend to shy away from two-legged mammals. In case any of the former species show up (bears or cougars) we’re always carrying our 9mm and .38 cal. protection to discourage any advances by them.

St. Patrick’s Day 2022

Thursday, March 17th, 2022

Cheers and Happy St Patrick’s Day! Damsel and I enjoyed traditional Corned Beef and Cabbage Dinner and a nice Irish Cocktail this afternoon.

It’s a spring-like day with high of 78 and forecast low of 51 overnight. We’re having a little wind out of the west with peak gusts up to 20 mph and mostly 5-10 mph in between gusts. There is no precipitation forecast until maybe a trace next week. This is normally a pretty dry time of year. In the past 30 years it rained 5 out of 30 times on this date.

Technically, Equinox hasn’t come yet (still 3 days off) but according to the solar ephemeris, our days are now showing over 12 hours of sun above the horizon. Sunrise is at 06:38, transit is at 12:39 and sundown is at 18:40 for our long/lat. That’s just a shade over 12 hours.

A word about progress of restoring our Stars and Stripes Theme: Shamefully, I haven’t done much to troubleshoot the theme other than to remove some offensive code that needs to be overhauled for the functions removed. Life gets in the way, and we seem to gravitate to doing chores around the house and RV rather than work on the blog themes. Maybe over the summer we can get some things done with the old theme restoration – if we’re not on the road, that is.

Imbolc Cross-Quarter Feast

Friday, February 4th, 2022

Imbolc, also called Saint Brigid’s Day, is a Gaelic traditional festival. It marks the beginning of spring, and for Christians it is the feast day of Saint Brigid. It is held in early February, which is about halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox (i.e. Cross-Quarter Day). Our ancestors (both of us) are western Europeans, many of whom were Celtic, Scotts or Irish. Thus, we are going to celebrate by having a traditional (in America) Irish Dinner Weekend feast. Our timing is a little late since the actual Imbolc occurrence is on the 3rd of February, but we don’t mind holding off the feast until the weekend.

The planned faire includes Corned Beef Brisket (flat cut) with boiled veggies of the low-carb varieties (cabbage, turnips, squash and a carrot or two). Both of us have to watch the carbs and I have to watch the sodium although this meal is borderline low-sodium-friendly with the cured beef brisket and horseradish cream sauce.

Damsel will use the leftover corned beef, along with sauerkraut, Swiss cheese and a special sauce go into a casserole the next day that has all the flavors of a Reuben Sandwich but without the bread. Recipe here. We’re in for a feasting weekend for sure.

Disclaimer: Our celebration of pagan holidays in no way implies that we are of those sects that originated them, but rather we are indeed Christians who celebrate some of the traditions of our ancestors. Observation of Cross-quarters is merely an extension of seasonal events observed by most societies (equinoxes, solstices).

Almost Done! – 2021 Tax Return

Thursday, January 20th, 2022

UPDATE: Filed 01/26/2022

I used strikeout tags above on the “Almost” in the title because we’re now filed and waiting for the refund.

UPDATE 2: Refund deposited 02/03/2022

This is the fastest we have ever seen a refund deposited. It took the IRS only eight out of the advertised 21 days to deposit our refund. Last year, we similarly filed our return in late January and it took the IRS 23 days before the refund showed up.


The current tax season will soon be over for us since we are completely done with everything except for one consolidated 1099 form from our brokerage; this investment account is always last for some reason, but it has previously been in our (electronic) possession before January is over. We’re expecting it to be available next week. We get a handful of 1099s from several sources including IRA RMD, SSA, pensions and financial institutions. Everything is already input to this year’s tax program except for the one mentioned above.

When the IRS changed the standard deduction under President Trump to be greater than our usual itemized deductions, it made our return so much easier to manage, given our financial particulars. We almost used to be like the dude in the photo on the left, but now we’re relieved of all that tedium under the revised standard deduction. We were happy to see that the current administration left things intact (albeit futzing around with other IRS functions). After we receive that last 1099 form, we will then be just a few clicks away from filing. This year, we are happy to say, that we analyzed our tax situation early and managed our withholding such that we will be receiving a small refund (<1K) from the Feds and, because of our charitable support for Arizona Private Education, we will be paying no state income tax at all.

Winter Lemon Crop

Sunday, January 2nd, 2022

Knowing that there was to be freezing temperatures overnight, Damsel and I decided to start picking the ripe lemons from our “orchard” yesterday – yes, we did it on New Year’s Day. We picked about an estimated three hundred of them before we knocked off for the rest of the day.

We stored the lemons in the wheelbarrow (image above – click to enlarge) in the garage overnight due to the probable freezing temperatures, but, as it turned out, the low was just about exactly the freezing point which wouldn’t have damaged the lemons. The forecast was for a “hard” freeze but the only effects were to freeze the top layer of water in the birdbaths and in the rain bucket. Dogs water dish under cover in the patio and in their wading pool did not freeze.

Despite having picked a couple gross of lemons from the tree, there are dozens more to pick (image below). I checked on the unpicked lemons this morning and none appeared to be damaged, which is a good thing. We plan on using many of the lemons for our annual batch of Limoncello and give the rest away to neighbors and the local food bank.

Since there are a lot of lemons still to be picked, we will probably not get to that until later this week. I have a couple of appointments, one for lab work and another with the dermatologist for my usual skin problems, but we will likely be able to work around those and get the pickin’ into our routine.

Visitors to our humble abode are likely to be presented with a complimentary bottle of our custom Limoncello.

2022 – Happy New Year!

Friday, December 31st, 2021

Wishing you a very happy and prosperous New Year in 2022! We don’t have a lot of news to report for the past year and, at our ages, that’s a good thing, I expect. In the coming year, we are hoping to resume some travel in the big RV which has been sitting for way too long. Meanwhile, we’re biding our time until the traveling weather gets here, hopefully sooner than later.