Friday, October 29, 2010


NOTHING LIKE FABULOUS FALL WEATHER AND A TRUMPET concerto to festoon one's day in a favorable way!

(The old stone railroad bridge is a nice enhancement, as well).


Thursday, October 28, 2010


I HADN'T BEEN TO VISIT MR. BULLFROG for much, much too long, so yesterday afternoon I put on my walking shoes and went to the park. I figured if I couldn't get there on a day like this one (it seemed like summer, but with autumn falling down all around), there wasn't much hope for getting back into my walking routine before the whiteness of winter is what's falling all around!

After not having seen my park for at least a month, I hopped out of the car eagerly and set out on the loop. I saw there were three dogs walking the trail with their owners. To myself, I named these dogs: Small, Medium and Large; and then the owners: these guys I called Mr. Large, Mr. Medium, and Mr. Small. It was really rather comical--the big man with the dachshund, the small guy with the, uh...some kind of jumbo dog. And of course, Mr. Medium was walking the Beagle.

But, really, it was Mr. Bullfrog (I guess I should call him Tiny) with whom I was hoping to visit. So when I got to his area of the park, I was shocked and surprised to see that his home had been greatly disturbed. He was nowhere around.

I have no idea if the place was condemned and he had to pack his bags for good, or if what's going on is simply renovations---and I'll see him again when they're complete.

I do hope it's the latter.


Monday, October 25, 2010



WHILE OBSERVING THE CHICKENS TODAY, I thought about how well they fit into the color scheme of the current season! The Little Actor was briefly here again this afternoon and we just happened to be watching these barnyard fowl together. As they clucked and strolled around the chicken yard, I think he was struck by their autumnal shades, as well.

It's even possible one of the hens was commenting on this very idea, herself!


Thursday, October 21, 2010


separate bulbs of garlic
into cloves.

Later, The Gardener and The Yard Man
planted the cloves,
while that Little Actor and I went over some scripts.
(We also had a snack, watched the horses in the meadow and exclaimed extensively over them, collected the mail from the mailbox, read some books, and one or more of us took an afternoon siesta.)


Wednesday, October 20, 2010


I HAVE AN OLD FRIEND. A GOOD OLD FRIEND. Her birthday is about two weeks before mine. In fact, her day of birth was about two weeks before mine, making her (just as I said) good and old! But, you know, Dear Reader, what I really meant to say is that Tina is a good, long-time friend of mine. I only mentioned her birthday because that is one reason why I spent the lunch hour with her today. We were jointly celebrating another year...celebrating our days of birth, jointly...celebrating our (somewhat) adjoining birthdays. Oh, please say you get it, already!

Tina and I eat together occasionally, often at places near where she works. But for today's lunch, we thought we'd step it up a notch. We took a little more time, went to a classier restaurant than is our usual custom. And we ordered two fancy desserts and shared them. It was a delightful birthday lunch, and when the waitress asked, "One bill or two?" we said two--because, of course, since we were both celebrating, we'd both be paying.

So our waitress brought us two black books (I told you we were in a fancy restaurant). We opened our wallets, and Tina put her driver's license inside one black book. "Oh," she laughed. "Look what I just did." She pulled a credit card from her wallet and got ready to make the switch.

But I was struck with a funny idea. "Let's BOTH do it--each of us put our driver's license in the book!" I suggested. "We ARE old, you know! Let's see how our waitress reacts."

Dear Reader, now that I'm actually telling you about it, I can see that it sounds less like old age and more like adolescence, but that's what we did! And we got a kick out of our silly stunt as we did it; but then we got back into our conversation and sort of forgot about it. Our waitress walked by on her way to the kitchen and scooped up the books.

She was quite a while in coming back, that waitress of ours, and I was starting to feel kind of sorry for giving her an extra trip to the table. When she did show up, with slightly raised eyebrows, she gave us a look and said, "Uhm, I'm going to need more than these--you each gave me a driver's license!" She was playing it safe--perhaps we really had BOTH made the same mistake?! She was chuckling a little.

Ha, ha. We chuckled back in a slightly sheepish way, but admitted nothing. Of course, the moment she disappeared with our credit cards, we had a good laugh at our goofy gag. We had more time for chatting before she returned the credit charges with a pen for our signatures. We thanked her, and 'Have a nice day!'s were exchanged; then our waitress went on her busy way.

I signed my check, passed the pen to Tina, and put away my credit card. Tina signed her check and was sliding her credit card into her wallet. Suddenly she was laughing again. "I have YOUR driver's license!" she said.

"Really?" I opened my wallet and pulled out the driver's license--sure enough, it was Tina's! Examining the invoices we'd signed, we discovered our waitress had reversed the charges; we'd each paid for the other's lunch. (Hmm, had our waitress played her own little trick?) And we had so nearly gone our separate ways identified as each other!

"I don't know WHEN I would have noticed," Tina said, "I don't need my driver's license very often." We were having a grand time, laughing.

"I don't either,"
I said. "It's hard to tell when I would have gotten mine out and discovered YOU there!" I thought about it briefly and added, "Oh, I wish that would have happened!"
Then (in spite of that slight disappointment) we went merrily on our separate ways, and the extra laughter we had enjoyed put the icing on the (birthday) cake (so to speak) for two good and old, good old friends!



Sunday, October 17, 2010


TIME FOR A PASTICCIO. (I'm not particular. Call it a gallimaufry if you insist, Reader Dear, or even an olla podrida.) The fact is, I've got a little of this and small amount of that to tell you about.

Last week, here came in the mail an official visitor's guide to the state of Arizona. (That's okay, Arizona, I've been known to be tardy myself, on occasion. [er, argh, yes, okay--on too many occasions.])

On pg. 34:
"Enjoy our Native American and Western heritages under azure skies..."

There are lots of glorious photos, but I'd have to say--it all looked better in real life.
On the same day I got the guide, I took this photo of a tree right here in the east that was changing its colors under azure skies. It also looked better--gloriously better in real life!


I harvested my pears yesterday, and recognized a whopping 300% increase over last year's crop. (Though quite a few were lost mysteriously, I'm still pleased with the four that are ripening on my kitchen counter.)


Today my yard man and my twin and I went for a little drive to a little airport, where the two more daring of the three of us went for a ride in a little plane piloted by a seventy-seven year old man (He wasn't little). The day was a windy one and the price of the ride rather steep, just to help you further understand, Dear Reader, why I had the opportunity of bumming around the little airport lounge and finishing up yesterday's crossword puzzle [in the day-old paper I found lying there] while two more-intrepid people took an airplane ride.

I watched the little plane take off and tried to guess at exactly which split second it would be too late for me to change my mind and hop aboard,

little knowing I would soon be taking a flight of my own!
(Although, as the pilot of a WWII fighter plane, I made the decision to keep it on the ground [It seemed wise, seeing as how all potential passengers of this dual-cockpit plane were busy clambering around atop it; not to mention the fact that the sign on the side read "Prepare for Combat," an activity I distinctly wished to avoid!)

After my Amelia Earhart flight of fancy,
I got to see a lot of other small planes
(all on account of my twin being himself a plane pilot [nothing fancy about it] and therefore getting an in-depth tour of the place.

We got escorted to the hangers via golf cart (a pleasant little ride in itself) and
shown more airplane engines than I'll ever see again at one time
(only surmising here, Reader Dear!)

I had a few other things to stow in this pasticcio, but time's getting short. It looks like I'll have to dump some baggage and take off soon.

(If you're loitering on the runway, Dear Reader,
it might behoove you to scramble off now!)



Saturday, October 16, 2010


I just want to be okay today.

I was zipping along this afternoon, feeling fine!
The person I've known the longest of my whole
entire life is here to visit me. We are off to look for a store selling coconut water.
"It's the best stuff in the world for hydration!" my twin brother tells me. "In fact, it's so pure, it can be injected straight into your veins."
This brother of mine is a storehouse of information!
(And, of course, he should know about coconuts; he's got eleven
acres of them growing in Zanzibar!)

Whaddya know, it takes a bit of looking, but we find what
we're after. We have a refreshing drink.
"It's not quite like pulling a young coconut from the tree, lopping off the top with a machete, and drinking it down," he says. "But it's good!"

On the way home, we stop to see my yard man where he's giving his horse-drawn
wagon rides. (You know, Dear Reader, he's a horse-driven man!)

Ah, it's a beautiful October day!
I'm feeling quite okay!

And THEN...
just like that...into my world
came a big long roofing screw!
Actually, it came right into the left rear tire of my car.

Whap, whap, whap
. The tire was protesting as I got near home. It was still exhaling through its lethal puncture wound when I pulled into the driveway and we looked to see what was wrong.

My twin set right to work. "I'll just put your spare on for you, no problem!" he said. He opened the trunk and helped me unload the junk that I keep stored there--a little stepladder and a styrofoam icebox, a couple of ratty blankets and a lot of odds and ends. (It wasn't very much fun, but I was still okay). We extracted the spare tire and all of the tools for changing...Well, not quite ALL of the tools.
"Huh, you've got anti-theft lugs on here! I'll need a special wrench to get them off. Have you got it?"

No. No, I didn't. I had no idea what the thing was supposed to look like, but believe me, I looked for it. I looked in every corner of the trunk. I looked in every crevice and compartment.
Then I called AAA.
"Unfortunately, we can't help you with that!" they informed me. "We have nothing with which to unlock the lug. All we can do is tow your car to a dealership. They usually have a tool to deal with it."
I hung up in a quandary.
But my twin said, "Don't worry! We'll just take my truck to the dealership and get the tool."

So I called the dealership. "Hmm," said the guy who took my call. "Have you looked in the glove compartment? What about in the trunk with the rest of the tools? Maybe it's in the storage box between the seats." He then commenced to chatting about these cars with the anti-theft lugs. And why they were put on some models. And why it's a good idea if you've got expensive wheels. And how they've got universal sets to deal with the problem on used cars that come in to their shop. But, of course, they have to have the car!
I interrupted him. "Can't I come get the tool?!" I asked.
"Oh, no. I can't let you have it," he said.
"You can't?!" I said. "Can I buy one? How much do they cost?"
"They're eight hundred dollars!" he said.
I groaned.
"Can I buy one," I asked, "and then bring it back?"
"Oh, no, you can't return them!" he said.

"Well," I sighed. "I guess all I can do is have Triple AAA tow this car to your dealership. What time do you close?"
"We close at 4:00," he said.
I looked at the time.
It was 3:09.

I was no longer feeling okay.
It was still a lovely afternoon,
with a beautiful blue sky.

Here's where I spent forty minutes of it--
in a stuffy little waiting room

(3:58 p.m. to 4:39 p.m.):

with one window into a nearly-deserted garage, where my car had its Super Fix-a-Flat-filled tire removed.
(This Fix-a-Flat can just happened to be one of the odds and ends in my trunk. "Okay," said my twin, "I think this might work. I'll fill the tire, and you jump in the car and drive to the dealership.")

The spare tire was installed, and every single one of those fancy theft-proof lugs was removed and replaced with the (sane) standard kind. I was halfway finished with the crossword puzzle in the daily paper I found in the waiting room (I'd just entered the word d-i-s-g-u-s-t) when the service manager brought me a message: "One of the bulbs for your turn signal lights is burnt out. Would you like for us to replace it? And...also, were you aware," he asked, "that your car's been out of inspection since July?"

I have a new song:

I just want my car to be okay, be okay.
I just want my car to be okay today!



Thursday, October 14, 2010


YESTERDAY AFTERNOON when my yard man suggested that we have supper early, due to a meeting at which he was due to appear, I said, "That suits me fine, because I have a political meeting this evening that I must attend."
"Oh?" he responded, "you are going to go ahead with that, then?"
"Well, of course," I said. "I was voted into office! I can't let my constituents down!"
The truth of the matter is, Dear Reader, (though I told you otherwise) I'm a politician now.
You see, I leaped too soon to a conclusion that I'd lost that election back in May. It wasn't but a day or so after the voting that I got a call, "You're the new committee person! You received a write-in vote."
I asked. "I am?! ONE vote does it?!"
It was the local committee chairperson of my particular party calling. "Yep," she said.

I laughed in disbelief. "But it was me! I voted for myself! And it was...well..." I just sort of let the words hang; I didn't have the heart to tell her it was just a joke! (Elected officials shouldn't behave that way, I decided; I should simply confess I knew nothing about local politics, and politely walk away from the job. And that's what I tried to do. I did! But she would have nothing of it!)
"There's going to be an introductory meeting..with a guest speaker. Please come!"
She gave me all the details. "We really need you!" She added.

So I hung up and had a little post-election victory party with the person who had voted for me. We had a glass of wine, half a dark chocolate bar and a very good belly laugh!
And when it came time for the meeting of which she spoke--I went to it.

That was months ago. Since then, the committee has been meeting monthly on Wednesday evenings at a local cafe. It was hoped I would attend.
I hoped that I would.
But circumstances always got in the way of me doing my duty.
Until yesterday evening.

I had had a little talk with the committee chairperson once again. "The election is coming up," she called to encourage me. Later she called to say, "The woman who runs the cafe forgot to keep it open for our committee to meet there this evening because we changed the week, so it's going to have to be at our house."

(The candidate for State Assembly person lives with her. State Assembly person is the other office for which I ran in the primaries. Back in May, when Marianne had called to tell me that I'd been elected committee person for my precinct of the township, I told her, "I also voted for myself as Assembly person. How'd that turn out?"
"Oh, my husband's running for that office," she informed me.
[I'm guessing he got more write-in votes!]).

So, anyway, I googled the address Marianne had given me and set out for the meeting this evening. The sun had set, and I had to crawl along the street, peering through the darkness for house numbers. When I saw a yard full of political signs, I stopped looking, parked the car on the street, and headed for the door.

Marianne met me there and ushered me into the tiny living room, where one other member of the group was seated, as well as her husband. "Have a seat," she said, "wherever you want."

Her husband, candidate for Assembly person, instructed me from his chair, "First you've got to say hello to Lily!" He motioned to the dog at his feet. "She's a shelter dog, was mistreated before we got her..." and he went on to give me a brief history of the life of the dog, while I dutifully scratched Lily behind the ears and stroked her head. I'm not an animal-lover like some folks, but I'm reasonably fond of dogs, and I do know one duty of a politician!

As we waited for the five other committee members who eventually showed up, I studied the startlingly large full-length painting of a young man that dominated the living room wall I was facing. It had to be the son of these folks, the candidate and his wife, the committee chairperson. It was a very well-done likeness, at least as far as I could tell--unmistakably a DNA mixing that looked believable. When the painting was mentioned later on in the evening, this was verified. "When he moved into his college dorm room a few weeks ago," said the candidate, "he wanted to take it with him. But we said 'NO.' Just imagine," he laughed, "what could happen to it there!" Marianne chimed in, "I was afraid it might come back with a moustache!"

When everyone had arrived--Margaret, Kathy (uh-huh, another one), George, Paul, John,, uh...I mean, Don (Dear Reader, you don't know how I longed for his name to be Ringo), the meeting topic turned to the upcoming bus trip to DC for the big rally there (you know the one, don't you?) and plans for the campaign push to take place in the next few weeks. I sat rather quietly by and listened attentively, hoping to hear just exactly what might be expected of me. I'd just about figured it out that what I had done was elect myself as a volunteer to help elect all those candidates who were hoping for honest-to-goodness political jobs. And then Marianne handed me a training manual which included, on the final page, an official Job Description. I couldn't help but notice that "attend meetings" was listed first and foremost as a responsibility to both the larger political party of which I am a member, and to the voters in my precinct. Well, there are a few other things listed, as well...seeking out new voters, staying in touch with constituents in "any way possible" (this raised a few questions in my mind), and various other endeavors that would conceivably advance the party causes.

I'd finished skimming the material in the manual by the time the meeting progressed to actual hands-on activity. We commenced to fixing labels on mailings. These particular mailings were destined for nursing homes in the area, and promoted the candidates running for office. (At nursing homes, I discovered, we are prohibited from passing out literature door-to-door). There were twelve-hundred pieces to label, and we made quick work of the job by all of us pitching in. By the time Marianne's and the candidate's daughter called to get a ride home from her evening job, we had wrapped up the meeting. Everyone was given last-minute instructions and reminders regarding Election Day--in particular, the newest committee person. She it was who discovered that the polls are open from 7:00 a.m. until 8:00 p.m. on Election Day. Ideally, she is to be at her precinct polling site from beginning to end!

When she got home, she tossed her manual down on the table, threw back her head and rolled her eyes. She said to her yard man, "Why did you let this happen?! If you'd just done a little campaigning for yourself, I never would have won!"



Monday, October 11, 2010



This is the day Cilantro was discovered in America!
(by my daughter, in her garden) then clipped and cleaned and left to dry in a cloud upon my kitchen countertop.

The celebratory fragrance of this activity filled the house and made me well-nigh ecstatic!


Sunday, October 10, 2010


A WEEK AGO, when my yard man and I walked in the door, just home from our Southwestern vacation, our suitcases filled with dirty laundry, the house was clammy and damp, the weather outside cool and drippy. There was a stack of mail on the table a half-mile high, and a backlog of messages on phone and computer.

I wailed to the yard man.

So today found us once again looking at cacti and palm trees! And Giant Sequoias, too!


Oh, ho, ho
...if you believe that, Dear Reader, I've got some other tall tales to tell...

They're true! They're tall! They're tall, but true.
Good grief, I'll just tell you the real facts, fair and square.
We were NOT in California (pfft, I just knew you didn't believe that part!)

But we did see cacti and palm trees and Giant Sequoias.

We latched onto this frabjous day and invited friends to enjoy some scopious outdoor gardens with us!

(I hope that you didn't have to eat your words, Reader Dear! [And if you did, I hope they were as yummy as the food we had with our friends before strolling around the gardens!])

Everything growing at these gardens is "hardy in our area" or else it's growing in the massive conservatories...(not massive enough for those Redwoods, I suppose, but they did have the palm trees in there!)

We spent all afternoon at these gardens, until the place closed down and they chased us out.

We saw all kinds of mind-blowing

both indoors and out.

and a teeny bit of fauna, too!

While we didn't see California, it's true,

we DID have that kind of day!



Friday, October 8, 2010


LAST NIGHT I WRAPPED UP a birthday celebration with a late-night bowl of spaghetti and a Black Forest drink.

It was a delightful ending. It had been a perfect beginning (after days of drizzle and rain)!

And there was a very nice scattering of good things in the middle!

But then this morning, though the day's beginning was just as sparkling as yesterday's, things went awry! I was awakened by a phone call on my little white rental-business phone. The message: "This is (make up a name, Dear Reader, any name) in Apartment 64 (fake number). Uhm, I was just callin' to let you know, uhm, there's a little situation goin' on here I'd like to discuss."

Turns out the situation was the payment of rent (or non-payment, as it currently stood), and a roommate unwilling to divvy up her share. "She says she's going to move out this afternoon, but she already took some things and stole some of my dishes, too! And, also..."
Okay, it was downhill from there. You don't want to hear it.

Here at the house, a plumber was expected at 10:00 a.m. to coerce my water softener into doing its job. (My dishwasher stubbornly refuses to do its job while the softener's playing hooky). So I went to the basement to tidy things up near this piece of machinery (This area of the cellar is the yard man's domain, and the dirt is more dirty than one might expect!)
As soon as the plumber had finished his job, I would check out things with (name you've concocted, Dear Reader) in Apartment (fake number) and I also had other pressing errands to run (I was playing hooky yesterday--justifiably so, [I felt]).

But did that plumber show up as expected? A call came at 11:15 from his office:"He'll be late!"
He got here at 1:25 p.m. Uh, huh.

Out the door I rushed, but without my cell phone. Where had I put it?!
I scurried all around. Had a little meeting with (your chosen name) tenant and the roommate (who lo-and-behold showed up).
Went here. Went there.
And came home to search for my cell phone again.

I looked: Through my purse--dumped out the contents twice.
Through the trash--dumped out the contents (yeech!) only once.
Through the bedcovers; pulled off the sheets, shook out the spreads, lifted the mattress,
looked at the piles of dust underneath the bed.

By now, of course, you are clambering to ask me: Did I try to call my cell phone number from that little white business phone?!
Well, alas, you see--I had bound and gagged that cell phone when I went to the movies last night! (That's where my yard man took me, since he hadn't hired a band, or arranged a dinner with the queen [O'b and Michelle were busy]), though he had brought flowers.)

I took a break from the search, and paid the demand for money that I found tucked under my windshield wiper yesterday (oh, the birthday surprises!)
Then I called and arranged for a steering column upper bracket adjustment to my car (oh, the many Toyota recalls!)
Then I went to the mailbox and gathered the mail
(oh, the wonderful belated birthday cards!)

Then I took up the search again.
Through cupboards and drawers.
Even in the fridge (who knew?)

Finally I just quit looking. "Tomorrow I'll get a new one," I said to the yard man when he came home. "I suppose I'll have to. I'm so tired of looking!"

"Okay," he said. "Did the plumber show up? Is the water softener fixed?"
And down the steps to the basement he went.

The. Basement.


Wednesday, October 6, 2010


Just the kind of thing one wishes to grasp and hang onto. My yard man and I were out on the road this evening when we saw this semicircle appear in the sky.
(He's so accustomed to stopping the car on a dime, now!)
When I hopped from the car for the picture, there were three other folks who had climbed from vehicles with cameras in hand!


Monday, October 4, 2010


BUMP, THUMP, THUD!! It's very hard for me to come to a soft landing after a warm and wonderful vacation like the one I just took. So I was fortunate yesterday--my first day home--that there was little I had to accomplish. When invited to accompany the Little Actor and his caretakers on a hike through a local park, I was most happy to bump along the runway for a little while longer before the vacation had to come to a full stop.


Sunday, October 3, 2010


IT WAS 105 DEGREES IN THE SHADE yesterday when the yard man and I left Phoenix. We had risen and dressed, and I had feverishly worked at consolidating my luggage. Both of us had gained a few items on the trip--a tee shirt or two, a book, some knick-knacks, and gifts for our dear Little Actor. That yard man, however, he didn't have a problem; he just stuffed everything more tightly into his one bag, sat on it and pulled the zipper closed. But I knew that I had some serious rearranging to do. Along with jeans and a shirt, I put on my vest and my jacket and my sneakers--the bulkiest and heaviest clothing I had with me. My bag of rocks, you see, was taking up more space than I could spare, and weighing me down.

I knew there would have to be some eliminations. So into the motel sink I dumped all the rocks, and got them wet to show their best colors. Hmm, I pondered which ones I could possibly part with, and, oh, it was tough!
Finally I picked out ONE that I thought I could leave behind.

(But now I'm begging of you, Dear Reader. If you happen to pass the Comfort Inn on Black Canyon Highway in Phoenix, please do me a favor. Go right on up to the third floor room, 351, and get me that pretty red rock that I left on the railing outside the door. I'd be ever so grateful!)

I staggered through two airports with my carry-on luggage, and sweated under my layers of clothing...but the rest of those rocks made it safely home with the yard man and me...

...and my handful of black and white pebbles, too!


Saturday, October 2, 2010


SO THERE WE WERE, the yard man and I, heading into the sunrise for the first time in ten days! (Of course, we weren't watching its first burst of glory, but it was still climbing upward in the sky as we headed east.) And, hurray, after studying the map over breakfast, we saw we had time to meander toward Phoenix, in spite of our time-gobbling fiasco the night before!

Our return route was south of our western route, but we saw a lot of the same types of scenery and terrain as we'd seen heading west.

Every once in a while, however, we came across something entirely new (like a serpentine road that was a map of the last ten miles we had traveled), and then I'd be frantically scrambling through my camera again...throwing out earlier pictures as fast as I could to make room for the new. It became the main activity of my day. "My goodness," said the yard man. "We've been to so many places where you could have gotten another media card!"

"Hmmm, I'm not sure about that. It seems to me we were miles from nowhere during much of this trip!" I responded. "But, oh! Stop the car! I haven't seen purplish-pink cactus before!"

Nor had I ever before been tempted to steal an orange --in an unripe state and straight off the tree (well, never in any state, I can honestly say). But extensive groves of citrus fruit were just too much to resist. "Please pull over," I begged my yard man.
"Just look how beautiful! And I'll bet they ripen off of the tree! Don't you think it would be okay to pick just one? Won't you stop?" I wheedled.

And do you know what he did, that Adam (ooops, I mean that man who was driving the rental car)?! He pulled right off the road and up to the tree. He made it possible for Eve to just open her window and pluck an orange!

I have to confess, Dear Reader, it's good those oranges were not really ripe. (And perhaps it's good, too, that my suitcase was already weighted down with a bag of rocks!) Yes, we got past those lovely landscapes of fruit and vegetables sans larceny of any kind!

I went back to gushing over boulders and mountains and clouds.
Oh, those clouds!
The only thing they tempted me toward was
a false belief that I'd never seen such a sight before in my life!

It was mid-afternoon by now and we'd spent a lot of time in the car.
Sure, we weren't making a beeline for Phoenix, but neither could we get out and lollygag a lot.

It didn't much matter, there was no place to stop! That's right, there was no place at all to stop. Even the yard man was getting nervous when the low level gas light came on and we heard the warning 'ding.'
It was still umpteen miles to the nearest little pinpoint spot on the map that signified human activity!

Then, what do you know? Out of the barren expanse popped a shopping center! Yes,
'Salome Shopping Center,' so said the sign.
We could buy gas! (The yard man and I, we both breathed a sigh of relief, because--it wasn't quite like locking the keys in the trunk--but without any gas, we'd have been loitering in the desert until even the clouds lost their charm!)

We eagerly entered the shopping center
(first point of interest in fifty miles)...and
were quite enthralled! Offered for sale were: bananas, balloons, hula-hoops, garden hose, toilet tissue, ice trays and a vacuum cleaner...all in the very same aisle! And that's not all:

If one needed a little statuette, right there they were, along with the bread and the plastic flowers!

The aisles were tiny and cramped, but the shelves overflowed with most anything one could be after!

(Except for one thing, of course. "Ha!" I said to the yard man, "find me a media card!")

Back in the car, we chattered about the fascinating shopping center for miles.
And miles and miles.
And then we came to the tiny town of Wickenburg, where we just missed the Visitor's Center and museum (closed at 5:00, like everything else of note). But, aha, we did get something to eat at a great little Mexican restaurant where our meal was so delicious, we wolfed it down, thus eating up the last of our western vacation!

(Except for the final short stretch into Phoenix--where we spent the night, and prepared for take-off).