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Saturday, February 22, 2020

Life Does Not Provide “Time Off”

A different sunrise
I don’t mean by today's headline that every day is workin’ in a coal mine. No doubt it is, in some parts of the world, but not for someone like me, fortunate enough to have five months’ seasonal retirement in southern Arizona. No, I mean only that life’s challenges and delights, the calm stretches and dramatic ups and downs, are all high-speed miles on a nonstop journey, as sunrises and sunsets and unexpected news bulletins, personal and national, constantly remind us. This morning, however, distracted as I am by news from friends and family (as well as by what comes to us over the radio waves), before too much time goes by with Tucson in my rear-view mirror I’ll sketch in something of our three days there last week. 

The sunrise at the top of today’s post is not my usual Dos Cabezas view but one a hundred miles away, in the Santa Catalina foothills north of Tucson, looking back to the east from the patio garden of a condo we were invited to use while our friends made a quick trip to Florida. We drove over from Cochise County to Pima County and up Sabino Canyon on Saturday afternoon, and the first order of business upon arrival was a patio hose bath for Sarah, who had become a very dusty ghost town dog in two short months. That always wears me out (bathing Sarah), and the Artist had done all the driving (I am navigator), so our evening’s adventure took us only as far as the nearest grocery store and deli. Also, remember, it is still winter, and the dark of night still comes early. 

Dark skies, twinkling city lights
Then comes morning again

But I am, as you know, una madrugadora, an early riser, and the quiet of morning is one of my most cherished luxuries, wherever it finds me, so imagine the sybaritic feelings of your seasonally retired bookseller in the mountain foothills, soaking in the morning sun, with nearby birds singing and humming, book and breakfast on the table beside me, dog at my feet — or dog popping up to look over the wall at the great world beyond! Bless that little Sarah! 

Curious dog girl!

After one night with the pack together in a new place, our dog was comfortable enough that we could leave her by herself for a while, sparing her hours in a parked car and sparing ourselves the worry. Our main Sunday destination was the Tucson Museum of Art downtown, which we found with no trouble at all. Traffic was surprisingly, delightfully light. I did not take my camera into the museum, but we toured all the galleries open that day and will return in the spring when the main gallery and its new exhibit can be viewed. A pause to refresh in the museum cafe followed.

Door to temptation!
We took a detour and then a different route for the return to the foothills, cruising the famous (or infamous) Speedway Boulevard for miles, much to the Artist’s satisfaction. He is convinced that anything one could possibly want can be found on Speedway Boulevard! One stop we did make on the boulevard Sunday was at a branch of Bookmans, a wonderful book of stores selling used books, music, musical instruments, and heaven knows what-all else, because — yes! — we do shop indie wherever we find ourselves. 

Books bought at Bookmans

Another day coming....
Another morning, another day, and further explorations. Monday took us to thrift shops and antique malls. Speedway Antique Mall was almost more excitement than we could bear! We wandered, dazed, through maybe a third of the store, by which time my arms were full of as many books as I could carry. Finally I told the Artist, “I can’t look any more!” and he replied, “Neither can I.” 

Only part of my haul from Speedway Antique Mall

I found only a single book to purchase at the Goodwill down the pike, but it was a nice one, and the cashier thought it was "cool" that I could read French. Wish I could read Spanish as well as I read French.... 

thrift shop find
Then — silly me! I neglected to check their days and hours! — we drove all the way down to Monument Camera, only to find that it is closed on Sundays, Mondays, and Tuesdays, but the good news is that by then we were acquiring a pretty good mental overview of the skeletal grid of Tucson city streets and finding our way around like old-timers. Somewhere along the line that day we had lunch at a little hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant, and somewhere else I found three more books, but we were ready to get back to Sarah and the relaxing patio well before dark. 

Santa Catalina Mountains in background
On the recommendation of several friends, we had thought to visit the 10-acre Ted deGrazia gallery and historic site on Tuesday morning before leaving town but ultimately decided to save it for another visit. There are so many things on our list for future visits — the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, the Golden Goose thrift shop, Mount Lemmon, St. Xavier, to name only a handful — and we’ll be wanting to revisit the art museum and Bookmans, as it probably goes without saying, but the big item for March, for me, will be the Tucson Festival of Books

Spring is coming in Tucson
Cities are exciting, full of energy. Tucson’s setting is beautiful. There is no end of things to see and do, and we are grateful to our friends for their invitations — friends who might be forgiven for thinking I’d be reluctant to return to our simple cabin in the wilderness. But the truth is that I really like life in the slow lane and am happy in the little nest I’ve been feathering during our winters here, adding to my Western library and batterie de cuisine. I value our neighbors here and am happy in my two volunteer mornings in Willcox. And that big city with all its myriad charms, as I have to keep reminding the Artist, is after all only 100 miles away.

nesting comforts


Dorothy Laage said...

I would love to go to Festival of Books, too. I hope that our Retreat will allow me a day to break away and enjoy it, rather than a supply run.

P. J. Grath said...

I hope you'll have a chance to get there, Dorothy. We will go to Tucson on Friday, and on Saturday my bookseller-turned-publisher friend and I will leave the guys and combine business with fun at the book fair.