Lemonade, anyone?

I am not a green thumb by any means, as evidenced by the cactus that died in my care. I just can’t believe the lemon tree we planted is bearing so much fruit!

Come to think of it, I can’t take any credit for this. I’ve done nothing. It’s flourishing on its own. If it weren’t for the irrigation system, it’d be dead because I’d forget to water it.

November baseball

One of the treats of living in Arizona is near year-round baseball. Here’s the Giants’ Kevin Frandsen getting a hit off the Yankees’ Phil Hughes in a mid-November Arizona Fall League game in Scottsdale. I shot this half-minute video with my tiny digital camera, assuming Frandsen would do something good with his at-bat, and he did!


Car photography

I recently came across this bizarre sight on the freeway near downtown Phoenix — a pickup truck filled with giant cartoony heads.

Miiko, a chronic drive-by shooter, loves taking pictures with her camera phone while on the road. She’s more into sunsets and other scenic shots like these, all taken in Arizona. (more…)

Is it spring yet?

I hate this time of year, and I’m not talking about the weather. It’s been nearly three months since the World Series and another two months before the 2008 baseball season starts. I’ve been jonesin’ for baseball big time, so what do I do? Go nuts the last few weeks, buying tickets to six spring training games as teams in the Cactus League open up ticket sales to the public.

About ten years ago, when I flew into Arizona for ballgames in March, I loved lying in the grass beyond the outfield fences and stretching out. But now I’ve become a snob and like to get as close to home plate as possible. And that’s why I love the Milwaukee Brewers. Their fans seemingly never go to their games, so you can always get seats right behind home plate. (Score!)

Two years ago, during the World Baseball Classic, when Team Japan played a practice night game against the Brewers, my brother and I just strolled into the ballpark, bought tickets, and were three rows behind home plate. We were so close to Ichiro on the on-deck circle that we could hear the velcro rip as he put on and adjusted his elbow pad.

Off the field, this offseason provided us another round of mindnumbing steroids news — Barry heading to court, the Mitchell Report, the Congressional hearing and the Clemens saga. We get it. Steroids is bad. Yes, the last 20 years of baseball statistics are a joke. But the sport has tried to clean up its act and instituted stringent testing three years ago, so let’s move on people.

Major League Baseball’s Web site has a countdown to Feb. 14, the day pitchers and catchers report to spring training. As I write this, it’s 18 days, 21 hours, 28 minutes and 2 seconds.

Play ball, already, dammit.

Hunting for food

I’m a night owl in a state full of morning people. I face that reality every time I go out to eat. Nearly all the restaurants in my bedroom community close at 9 or 10. Anything later and the only options are the big chains. This past Saturday, we were ready for dinner at 10:30 p.m., so we settle for P.F. Chang’s, which closes at midnight. When we walk in, the large dining room is empty, except for two couples, and they are already wrapping up with doggie bags on their tables. We sit down and Miiko says, “We’re living Manhattan hours in Arizona.” So true. The night before we strolled into The Cheesecake Factory at 11:10 p.m.

I used to complain about the lack of restaurant options after 10 p.m. in Arizona. But it’s partly because we’ve romanticized the Bay Area. We’ve spent a considerable amount of time back home the last few months, and realized – or reacquainted ourselves with the fact – that many Bay Area restaurants close up shop early, too. Upon further reflection, there’s perks to late-night dining in Arizona. We’re always one of the few customers. We get excellent service and the food arrives fast.