Monday, June 28, 2021

Marmalade Pizza

Marmalade pizza from local restaurant Fat Olives.

I often find artisanal foodie recipes ridiculous but you have to admit some are delicious. I had this marmalade pizza from the local restaurant Fat Olives. The "marmalade" is a bacon marmalade. The pizza was dressed with a mildly spicy wildflower chili honey. The other meat you see is thinly sliced Molinary sopressata, which is an Italian sausage that could be called salami, though it doesn't taste like the sandwich salami we usually eat the US. Cooked up like this, it tastes somewhere between salami and bacon. It's delicious! I'm not exactly sure why it's buried in arugula but perhaps it is to cool off some of the chili. Anyway, I recommend it.

If you ever stop in Flagstaff and you like pizza, you should definitely check out Fat Olives. It's a little "spendy" ($$$) but not any worse than most other restaurants here. This is an expensive town to dine out since they passed the $15 minimum wage.

Friday, June 25, 2021


The smoke is certainly bad for my lungs, but it makes for a beautiful sky when combined with monsoon clouds.

The panic over the Rafael Fire subsided somewhat in Flagstaff and it's apparent the firefighters now believe they can redirect the fire in a safer direction. Unfortunately, a few ranches and some campers had to evacuate.

We had a few sprinkles at my house this week but the forecast calls for a monsoon wave next week. Here's to hoping.

Monday, June 21, 2021



Your eyes tell you it is snow but your brain knows it is ash. Summer is off to a bad start.

Arizona uses a READY, SET, GO method. The neighborhood on the other side of the interstate from mine is in SET. It's less than a half mile as the crow flies. I've made a few preparations in case we have to evacuate but I still hope to avoid it.

Friday, June 18, 2021

Fake Monsoon

This storm built over the peaks, and it looks like it was raining on the high ground when I snapped this photo, but when it moved out over the plateau it didn't drop much. Typical for thunderstorms in June.

In Arizona, we have entered the official monsoon season, which begins on June 15th. As often happens, we have received some scattered thunderstorms, but they don't seem to be the real monsoon, but rather a series of flows of moisture from the Pacific driven by ephemeral weather conditions. It's the fake pre-monsoon season. The real monsoon doesn't usually arrive until July. It kind of looks like it's going to dry out again.

We had a nice little storm yesterday that rained enough for muddy looking water to flow out of the downspouts, but the ground was dry again by sunset.

The state is on fire again, and we all sit around tapping our foot and hoping for a good soaking.

Thursday, June 10, 2021

Chained to Choices

The San Francisco Peaks from near my house. I have chosen to live in places where my weekends are like a vacation, placeS with great natural beauty and recreational opportunities, but I'm always looking for new and better things.

I'm struggling to maintain my personal responsibilities this year. After being stuck home for most of 15 months due to the coronavirus pandemic, I feel like traveling all the time, but find it difficult to justify the trips I want to take. Most days are taken up with work, and I have to use my earned paid time off judiciously.

Perhaps I'm spoiled. I got to take a long weekend to the White Mountains last year, and this year I visited my Mom once already (after a very long break), then I enjoyed a long weekend in Tucson. I have another family visit coming up. But the visits to family don't feel like a vacation. They are usually relaxing, at least in the sense that I get away from work, and it's good to visit loved ones. But we also have a contentious dynamic in my family, and sometimes it isn't all fun and games.

I also have to visit the house I inherited in Indiana this year, because I am responsible for maintenance. But I have no desire to go back to Indiana since my Dad died. It's a place that is now sad for me, and I have few close relatives remaining there. Also, as I have mentioned here before, I didn't particularly enjoy growing up in Indiana. That isn't what one does there (enjoy life). It's a safe place to live, and it's a place I'm tied to by property and family, but it isn't interesting.  Relatives expect me to visit, and I don't want to take all the time to do that, as I will be busy with the house. I can already foresee a desperately crowded itinerary. I may just invite them to stop by the house while I'm working on it.

When I was growing up, we took good vacations when I was young, particularly to Florida. I think this spoiled me with high expectations. But eventually my parents divorced and then we got geographically dispersed, and true vacations (or holidays) became few. We always traveled to visit relatives. This both saved money and took care of family relationships. But it never felt like a vacation.

I guess I'm a jerk, because most of the time I would rather see somewhere new than visit relatives. Nowadays we can keep in touch remotely and I just don't see the need to visit everybody that often. It isn't the old days.

If there is something at fault here, it is perhaps my failure to take chances when I was young, that might have put me in a financial position to travel whenever I want. Instead I chose day jobs, a steady paycheck, and weekend adventures, over entrepreneurialism or aggressive investment. I could write an entire book about the type of conservative, risk-averse culture that led me to those choices, but suffice it say, now I just have to put up with fitting scarce free time for travel in between work days. It's too late in life for me to start taking big chances. I'm anchored to the choices I made when I was in my twenties.

I'm preparing for retirement and eventually will be financially independent, but not until I near the average lifespan for my family. Except for a few of my more careful distant relatives, we generally don't live past our 70s. I'll retire, then die within a few short years like my grandparents and my Dad. If I even make it to retirement.


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Golf and Gambling

Celebrating my brother's birthday on a golf course in Tennessee, April 25, 2010. I miss playing golf with my youngest brother. 

I buy the occasional lottery ticket. This is more based upon hope than competitiveness or the risk/reward cycle that I think most gamblers seek. Many gamblers use this catch phrase, "Make it interesting." They do this when they are competing against someone else.

I've never empathized with this sentiment. If something isn't inherently interesting to me, then I won't do it in the first place. Betting money on it is therefore irrelevant to me.

I'm thinking about getting back into golf. I haven't played in over 6 years and I've got the urge. Arizona has many beautiful courses, though there is only a single public course here in Flagstaff. If it weren't for the price of land, I suspect there would be more. But golf is something that can be done on the occasional road trip.

Golf is a sport where gamblers like to run a bet on every round. I don't like playing with people like that. To me, the game is the point. I compete only against myself and I wouldn't do it if it weren't worth doing without a wager.

Tuesday, June 1, 2021


The skies keep threatening but haven't brought much rain. Otherwise the weather has been lovely, despite some of the usual spring winds.

I have burned out before but it feels somehow different this time. Now that we are in the post-lockdown phase of the coronavirus crisis, things seem very strange to me. The country looks like a different place and my life is in a different place. I feel like a different person. I'm not sure what's going on with me but it isn't entirely great.

At least we have entered the warm months. The weather is fair and skies are beautiful. My fitness looked terrible for a few weeks but I kept at it and I'm starting to hit some of my usual goals for this time of year. On my last bicycle ride I conquered my two local nemesis hills, one of which I had failed three times to ride up this year without stopping. That feels good.