We left Tucson, Arizona on Saturday, May 19th to begin the major part of our book tour. We had five stops in Arizona, one in Gilbert, a suburb of Phoenix. The temperature was 105. Dry heat they say, but the heat from an oven is dry too. This event was a book signing at the Barnes and Noble. Barnes and Noble placed an early order for the book, unusual for a Monthly Review Press book, so I have been more than willing to do book signings at the stores. The staff at this one, as at the other chain book stores we have visited, have been enthusiastic and professional. I usually sell a few books at the signing and then autograph a few before we leave. Hopefully the staff will push the book and display it in a visible location. I did another signing at a small independent bookstore in Green Valley, Arizona, a large retirement community. This town is not unattractive, but like other similar places, it didn’t appeal to me. We don’t care to live anywhere there aren’t children. I think, though, that the warm weather, activities, and the instant camaraderie that develops among all these elderly folks, make residents feel less lonely and more secure. Loneliness is the bane of our society.
Tucson was a good place to live for a few months, the nondescript downtown and endless, strip-mall-clogged boulevards notwithstanding. We lived on a bed-and-breakfast property owned by a gracious and friendly couple who once owned a large resort in Pennsylvania’s Pocono Mountains. They are also artists, and we stayed in the man’s studio, a large two-room adobe structure with high ceilings and art works – paintings and sculptures – all over the place. The sunrises and sunsets were often spectacular, with the Catalina and Rincon mountains surrounding us. Birds abounded, including roadrunners and gambel’s quail. The chicks of the latter amused us in the weeks just before we left, scurrying about under the sometimes not so watchful eyes of their parents. One day a bobcat came right up to our front door. It was a small one and I thought at first it was a house cat. Almost every night, coyotes howled, their sound difficult to pinpoint. Sometimes they sounded like they were right outside the door. We sometimes saw a single coyote roaming round the cactus, which were blooming brilliantly in the late spring heat. For some reason, probably destruction by cattle at some past time, there were only a few saguaro cactus on the property, but these hardy desert sentinels abounded nearby, especially in Saguaro National Park, a short drive away. We hiked there and in the foothills of the mountains nearly everyday, until the retina in my left eye tore and partially detached in March. I had to have laser surgery twice. The first one hurt like hell!
We were sad to leave our hosts but happy to be on the road again. We loaded our car with our possessions once again: our hot plate, clothes, my portable desk, our kitchen equipment, all the accoutrements of our peripatetic lives. Now we had to carry two heavy boxes of my book. To keep the load lighter and in keeping with our disattachment from material things, we gave away books, clothes, and a few kitchen utensils, including a cuisinart we’d been dragging around for years. It had been a gift from our children, but we had used it long enough.