Coffee heat rising

The High Cost of Culture: 16 low-cost routes to the better life

Frugal Scholar reports on a wonderful day at the New Orleans Jazzfest (and ancillary activities), a good reason to live in or visit New Orleans. In passing she remarks that folks grouse about the $43–$50 ticket prices. That sounds like quite a bargain for twelve stages (!) hosting over seventy performances.

Some months ago my friend Kathy and I bought tickets to see Joshua Bell perform with the Phoenix Symphony, an event that coincided with a visit from her now-married daughter, who by the end of high school had become accomplished enough with the violin to consider a professional career. The concert was last night. When I pulled out my ticket, I was reminded that we paid $85 apiece. Parking was $12 in a garage whose elevator didn’t work, so, in high heels, we had to walk down and later up five flights of fire-escape stairs inhabited by bums, one of whom amused himself by filling up the stairwell with cigarette smoke. 

On reflection, I thought…good heavens! If you were a couple and you wanted to go to a symphony performance, it would cost you $182, and that’s before you’ve had dinner or spent the gas to drive downtown. Most people like to have a nice dinner before a concert or at least dessert or drinks afterward; around here you can easily spend $40 or $50 apiece on dinner, especially downtown. By the time they’d paid tips, a couple could have invested another $100 in the evening: almost $300!

It makes $43 for a daylong festival of jazz look like a mighty bargain, eh?

I certainly can’t afford to pay almost $100, exclusive of dinner, to go to a classical music concert very often, and I make a decent salary. The message is that “cultchah” is only for the rich. 

More plebeian pursuits will set you back a pretty penny, too. A single seat at an Arizona Diamondbacks baseball game at an elevation that does not require you to bring an oxygen tank can run $50 to $70. Apiece! Imagine bringing the whole family to that game: Mom, Dad, and two kids: $200, before you get to the hot dogs and Crackerjack!

Where do people get that kind of money?

I see the New York Times is about to jack up its subscription prices to almost $60 a month. Mine is a cut-rate deal for university employees, but I’m sure it will rise, too—after you get through the punch-a-button phone maze, the robot voice flicks you the gesture by informing you that no one’s there to speak to you, so it will be Tuesday before I find out whether I have to cancel the paper or not. I sure can’t afford sixty bucks a month…but then, just a glance at the Times‘s advertising tells you the news is not addressed to the peasantry, anyway.

PBS has been taken off the air for people who receive their TV by antennas. The new digital incarnation does not come in on my flicking “box.” I can’t afford cable, nor can I afford an expensive new antenna and a workman to install it, so apparently PBS is already a thing of my past, as the Times is about to be.

These developments impoverish America far more than does the general collapse of the economy. When people can’t get exposure to great music, can’t see a decent television program, and can’t even go to a damn baseball game because the better things in life are priced out of reach, we’re all dumbed down. We don’t need as much money as we imagine we do, but we do need access to the things that matter in life: music, art, serious news reporting, drama, sports. 

Fortunately there are a few back doors into some quality cultural events. The Phoenix Art Museum has a freeby night once a week, although of course we bums aren’t allowed in to see the major traveling shows. Several churches in the Valley have such high-quality music programs that attending a service is akin to enjoying a free chamber music performance—albeit, nonbelievers have to sit through a lot of hoopla for the privilege. Some church music ministries bring guest performers or engage Phoenix symphony professionals to put on religion-free concerts at reasonable prices. And there’s a surprising wealth of jazz in Arizona, much of which can be enjoyed in relatively affordable venues. And sporting events, not on the professional level but maybe so much the better for that, can be caught at nearby colleges and universities.

In most cities you can find guides to these events and activities at your local NPR station’s website, in events listings in “alternative” newspapers, and in handouts available at local libraries. Just because you can’t afford rich folks’ entertainment is no reason to sit at home. Here are a few places to look for free or low-cost cultural events, with examples from my part of the globe. Google…

  1. Your local NPR station(s); look for an events calendar at each station, since they may differ.
  2. Local museumsbotanical gardens, and zoos    
  3. Events calendars at local colleges and universities  
  4. A nearby university + the team name  
  5. A nearby college + sports events  
  6. Your city’s Parks and Recreation Department  
  7. Your city + events  
  8. Event calendars for cities within day-trip driving distance  
  9.  Chamber of Commerce events calendars  
10. Volunteer gigs as ushers or ticket-takers at concert halls and theaters.
11. Nearby cultural centers  
12.  Jewish Community Centers   
13. Your local YWCA or YMCA  
14.  Local church events and music calendars   
15. Special interest groups such as the Audubon Society, the Nature Conservancy, or the Sierra Club  
16. NPR online, PBS online, and Hulu   

Et vous? How do you find kultcher on a shoestring?

Oops! By light of day, I see I repeated myself in (2) and (10)! Sorry about that. Safari crashed just as I finished that list, the first time around, erasing the whole thing. So, with great disgust and impatience, I had to try to remember and then rebuild all the suggestions I’d dreamed up and relocate all the links I’d dredged  up. Sooooo… Let’s change numero (10) to the hint I remembered after I first published this post.

Copyright © 2009 Funny about Money

Ridiculous day, so far…

Okay, okay. I can’t even blame anyone (other than my turkey self) for this day’s launch. It wuz all my fault.

Out of the sack at 5:15. Off to M’hijito’s at 6:30, there to meet Bila the Painter par Excellence (or, if not p.e., at least par incredibly cheap), slated to arrive at 7:00 a.m. Son is still in the sack. A half-hour passes. No Bila. I’m hungry, not having had energy or volition to bolt down more than a couple pieces of cheese and a banana. Another half-hour passes. Kid gets up. No Bila. Shee-ut.

I drive to the train stop, 400 photocopied page proofs in hand, planning to earn another $50 in the transit to and from the Great Desert University. Stick my credit card in the ticket machine. Receive message: Not accepting credit cards today. Bureau-code for Eff You Very Much!

Naturally, I have no cash on me, because I never carry cash. Doesn’t matter: last time I tried to stick a bill in the machine, the machine spat it right out. If you don’t happen to carry $2.50 in nickels, dimes, and quarters, you’re not riding. Curse, stalk back to my car, drive to Costco, fill up. 

In the course of this Brownian motion, the local NPR station is delivering its flaming-debris-in-the-middle-lane reports: State Route 51 is dead stopped from the interchange back to Northern; the 202 has a wreck at 32nd Street. Wheeeeeee!

After filling up, I decide I’d druther wait at my house than on the road for the freeways to clear up, so I drive home and work on an article for a GDU client editor while the rush hour passes. Back at the casa, I glance at the calendar and learn that Bila is scheduled for the 18th, not for today.

Oh good. We can repeat all this next Monday!

Dumb tax!!!

Arrive on campus around 10:30. Duck through the church courtyard to avoid walking past Her Deanship’s office window. There have to dodge around a homeless mentally ill person sleeping on the sidewalk. Emerge near the stoplight at the crosswalk, where I’m panhandled by another homeless mentally ill person and then cross the street almost hand-in-hand with a third homeless mentally ill person. Really. We should at least set up showers on the streets for folks who need them, since We the People can’t bring ourselves to provide shelter and psychiatric care for our most helpless compatriots. Oh. Sorry. That would be SOCIALIST!!!!!, wouldn’t it?

Moving on, Her Deanship has requested that I send in the two endless forms to fulfill the requirements for the spring 2009 annual review. I point out that this is a bit redundant, since I’ll be gone in December (if not sooner, should I happen to find actual work elsewhere…). She replies that she thought I’d like to have it, “since you’ve worked hard this year.” 

Over the weekend, it’s occurred to me that I probably wrote most or all of the annual review b.s. shortly before she canned me. So, after I shovel the first supplicant out of my office, I dig up this spring’s paperwork. And yea, verily: it’s already filled out and filed on my computer. Thank God!

Nine. Single-spaced. Pages. Of. Ten-point. Arial. Pointless. Circular. Repetitious. Meaningless. Palaver.

Why on earth would the woman want to subject herself to this nonsense over an employee who’s out the door? Why??? I’ll tell you why: because one of her higher-ups must have ordered her to do it! Left to her own devices, she’s not crazy.

This. This one, for a change, is not my doing. For annual reviews, the GDU bureaucracy makes employees answer a long series of specific written questions, many of them amazingly stupid, that ask you to find original ways to repeat yourself seven different ways from Sunday. The result is a jumble of garbage, a vast waste of time.

Well, thank God I’d already wasted my time before the ax fell, since I had plenty of constructive things to do today. Now it’s Her Deanship’s turn to waste some time.

Another meeting, this one of disaffected staffers. We lay out tentative plans for our workflow for the rest of our tenure at GDU. One employee describes the bizarre antics of the soon-to-be-ex-husband. Dear God…what is wrong with people? The guy makes GDU sound like a haven of sanity. Moving on, we come up with 87 gerjillion things for me to find out from our client editors.

SK describes a new freelance assignment. I’m to find and sign a contract returned to us by a guy who wants us to edit a religious tract. Back to my fault: I set it aside on Friday and blew it off.

I send out a flurry of e-mails to the client editors, by way of accomplishing the 87 gerjillion things. By now I’ve infected every member of my staff plus the Dean’s factotum, who presented herself for the first meeting. No doubt by Wednesday (commencement!) so many clones of my virus will be circulating through the campus population that I will, by proxy, infect the President of the United States of America. Talk about your six degrees of separation!

Flee! Early afternoon comes and I escape, stopping by a Yup Grocery for two packages of pretty good sushi, I suffering again, for the second day, from a great craving for soy sauce. Must be some sort of electrolyte imbalance. Home to consume the stuff with dos cervezas. 

E-mail from SDXB: the cops are reopening his daughter’s 15- or 20-year-old case, in which she was kidnapped from the GDU campus, hauled into the desert, tortured, and then set free (or she escaped, unclear which) after her car was torched—coincidentally on a ranch belonging to a friend of mine. My friend’s mother-in-law saw the fire and called the Highway Patrol, who rescued her after the perps had fled. Oh hell, why not? We haven’t had our fill of drama, have we?

I can’t stand it. I’m going back to bed.

Light rail is AWESOME!

So yesterday as a lark SDXB and I rode the city’s new light rail train from uptown Phoenix to the end of the line in Mesa; thenon the return legdropped off in Tempe for lunch at the Great Desert University’s new “local foods” café. What a hoot! The trains, being brand-new, are clean and shiny. The ride is smooth and surprisingly fast: from Tempe to our stop was about 40 minutes, no longer than it takes me to make the drive in moderate traffic. And it was great fun.
Check it out:


Starting Monday, I am going to park my car near AJ’s (my favorite purveyor of overpriced foods) at Central and Camelback and ride the train to campus. That will save about 30 miles of wear & tear on my car plus almost a quarter-tank of gas per trip!

Buying tickets

As an old folk, I can get a round-trip ticket for $1.25, somewhat less than the cost of gasoline for a round-trip drive. They have various packages that save a little, but unfortunately the tickets are for consecutive days, and I don’t necessarily go to Tempe five consecutive days a week. Ditto the university’s cut-rate package: you have to buy a full year’s worth; they take it away from you when you’re canned; and it covers consecutive days. So any day that you don’t ride represents wasted money. With the senior-citizen fare, the best deal seems to be to purchase a ticket from a vending machine for each ride.

But it gets better!

Presently, the end of the line on our side of town is in a shopping center with a Costco and a Target, within walking distance of M’hijito’s house. On days when I need to do make a significant shopping trip, I could leave my car in the Park’n’ride there and, on the way home, hit Costco and Target. This would save an extra trip for supply runs.

Also along the way are a Safeway, a Walgreen’s (both in reasonably safe areas), and the wonted AJ’s. In other words, I could combine about 98% of routine shopping with light-rail trips!

It would cut the use of my car by a good 75 to 80 percent. And once The Hartford hears about this, it will cut the cost of auto insurance: they specifically ask whether you commute on public transport.

In about 18 months or two years, this train is going to run right up the main drag just to the west of my neighborhood. I will be able to walk to the station—or ride Xoot the Xooter, or, as I get more decrepit, ride an electric scooter.

So! In retirement, I will barely need a car.

Good thing, since the amount of savings I’d earmarked to buy the new car was incinerated in the Bonfire of the Bush Vanities, and so I’ll have to make do with my ten-year-old van. Chuck the Mechanic Par Excellence informed me that its next scheduled service, at 90,000 miles, will set me back $1,200. Great timing, eh? I really need a twelve-hundred-dollar bill just as I’m about to lose my job. Well, it’s a lot cheaper than a new car.

And if this light rail system actually works to cut mileage by, say, 60 to 75 percent, the old clunk may survive another ten years.
Frugal and green!

Life in the Big City

Dang! Now I’m stuck in the house for an hour or so.

Burglar tools, 1875
Burglar tools, 1875

Thanks to a seemingly endless stream of missives from the neighborhood association warning of burglars who wait and watch on the street and then clean out your house when they see you leave on an errand, I’ve been checking all around before I drive my car out of the garage. At one point, our intrepid leader reported seven burglaries and prowlers caught in the act over a 15-day period—one every two days. Many of the perps arrive in pairs or groups; pretty clearly, some of this stuff represents organized gang activity. Others are singletons. The level of their determination to rip off the residents keeps step with the rise in the unemployment rate:



I’ve received several emails and calls about an incident that occurred in the 8000 block of N 8th Ave today.


A 20-30 yr old Caucasian male approached two homes that we know of in the middle of the day. After ringing the doorbell and pounding loudly on the door but getting no answer, he attempted to drill thru the lock and pry open one of the doors. The homeowner was home but wisely chose not to answer the door for the stranger. When it became apparent he was attempting to break in, the homeowner yelled at the guy and he left.


I’m happy that he left and did not get into the house, but he’s still out there. Phoenix PD was called but the guy was long gone. They indicated they were aware of this guy and have been looking for him. We need to be especially watchful for this creep as it could be very dangerous if he gets into a house where the homeowners are home as he almost did today. If you see someone matching this description, call 911 immediately. You do not need to wait for him to do something. If he matches this description, call 911 immediately. If the dispatcher gives you any grief about it, tell them we’ve been told the police are looking for this guy and our Community Action Officer has asked us to call immediately.


The guy is 20-30 years old, white, about 5-10″, shaved head, dark, tightly trimmed goatee. His face was described as gaunt as you might expect a drug addict to appear. He arrived at the house on a red and black motorcycle, wearing a Yamaha motorcycle jacket and a helmet , carrying a backpack.


Be watchful, be safe, be quick.


Okayyy… Just a few minutes ago I gathered my junk to make a run on Costco, Sprouts, and Target. And what should I see parked about three doors down but an old beige Oldsmobile with someone sitting in the driver’s seat. Just a-sittin’ there, minding their own business, eh? Because I couldn’t see far enough to get the license plate from my front yard, I drove my van down there, wrote down the license number and car description, and then came back. The occupant had a shirt hung in the driver’s side window so I couldn’t get a good look at her. (Some of the perps of late have been women, BTW.) I wasn’t even sure it was a woman or a man in drag—the hairdo looked like a bad wig. It could have been a guy tricked out to look like a woman, by way of camouflage.

Damn it. I had a lot of stuff to do today, and I didn’t have in mind spending an hour or so waiting around for a cop to show up. That’s the usual wait time when you call 911 around here. Ohhh well.

In the protective coloration department, yesterday I realized that if I’m to continue shopping at the Sprouts, Costco, and Target in my general area, I shouldn’t be doddering around the parking lots with a purse slung over my shoulder. Since I charge everything, really there’s no reason to haul a bag around everyplace I go.

For a little old lady to carry a purse into the Sprouts or the Albertson’s shopping center down the street is like wearing a sign saying “Mug Me!” The Albertson’s is just creepy—I won’t go in there even in the daytime anymore. Sprouts’s parking lot is a bit sketchy, too. The Walgreen’s in that strip mall allows young toughs to loiter outside the front door, so when you go in there you have to run a gauntlet of threatening-looking men and boys, and you get to enjoy passing through a thick cloud of their cigarette smoke. They may be harmless fellows, but IMHO if you dress like a violent thug and affect the mannerisms of a violent thug, there’s a fair chance you are a violent thug.

La Maya had a close escape from a mugger at the gas station adjacent to the Sprouts parking lot, and then, more recently, she watched a hooker pick up a john in the parking lot. So, your choices are to burn gas driving into a better area, where the stores are nicer and the parking lots less littered with questionable patrons, or to take your chances closer to home.

dcp_23971So, realizing that when I shop I rarely use anything other than a credit card, I decided to disinter an old fold-over wallet and use it to carry the AMEX card, driver’s license, and Safeway nuisance card. It will fit in my jeans pocket, and as long as I’m wearing a shirt on the outside, the resulting bulge is unnoticeable. With any luck, the perps will prefer to knock over some other little old lady with her purse slung over her shoulder, and maybe leave me alone.

And besides, it has a benefit: one fewer piece of junk to drag around.

Of course, leaving my purse in the house poses the chance that it will be stolen, if indeed The Burgular decides to come visiting. But I have a weird little hidey-hole that is SO strange I doubt even a pro will think of it. So I’m going to hide the purse there whenever I go out.

Image: Burglar’s Tools Found in the Bank, Wikipedia Commons

Security Doors: Yea or nay?

The last “safety alert” the head of our neighborhood group sent out reported seven burglary and prowler incidents over the preceding fifteen days. That’s one every two days. And it includes only the those that homeowners relayed to this guy, not every single episode on the police blotter.

At least two sets of perps are watching residents’ movements. They wait until a homeowner leaves, then break in a back entrance, walk through the house to the garage, open the garage door, drive their car inside, close the door, and clean out the house. Then they drive away, unnoticed by the neighbors. One woman was ripped off royally in the time it took her to run to the grocery store. The latest victim was close to my house, and the perps who drive the green station wagon were recently seen peering over the back wall at La Maya and La Bethulia’s house.

Burglar alarms don’t help. One guy, knowing it would take the cops 10 or 15 minutes to get there after the security company called them, strode through a house with the alarm blaring—he had plenty of time to lift a laptop and rifle through all the papers in the owner’s home office.

For quite some time, I’ve been quietly thinking about installing security doors on the four entrances in the back and on the side of the house, which cannot be seen from the street. Three of these doors are sliders; one of them latches but does not lock, and another will not latch or lock at all. All three Arcadia doors are alarmed and “secured” shut (more or less) with sticks in the runners. The back door is the worst menace: it’s a cheap Home Depot affair with glass lights and a single-cylinder dead bolt. Even I could bust through it: use my shoe to break a window, and then just reach through the opening and unlock the door.

I’m not fond of security doors. My feeling is that the burglars, not the honest citizens, belong behind bars. How can I say how much I resent feeling that I need to live behind bars, alarm systems, and glaring security lights when I have done nothing to deserve being locked up? But…on the other hand, if the guys across the street had had security doors front and back, they wouldn’t have suffered a home invasion, wouldn’t have been beat up, wouldn’t have been chased down the street by a guy waving a pistol. Security doors have other plusses, too. The one on my front door allows me to leave the door open to let the fresh air in on lovely days like today, and its ugly security screen lets me see out (sort of) without a stranger at the door seeing in. When someone rings the doorbell, I can open my front door to see who they are, but they can’t see whether I’m alone, how big I am, how old I am, or whether I have a mastiff standing at my side. These are good things.

On the other other hand, when La Bethulia was here the other night, she remarked that a house she owned in Moon Valley had a pair of security doors over an Arcadia door. During the hour or so it took her to go out to dinner one evening, the perps took a crowbar to the lock and just broke it off. This left them plenty of time to go through her belongings at their leisure. So…it may be that security doors are not as secure as they look, especially with instructions on how to “bump” a lock available on YouTube. My locks, like most people’s, are vulnerable to this easy break-in technique; to secure all my doors, I would have to replace every deadbolt in the house with safer locks, not an inconsiderable expense.

And speaking of expense: security doors are not cheap. Most of them are plug hideous: they look either like prison doors or like a kitsch dealer’s wet dream. See what I mean?

Welcome to the Big House!
We wuv whales!

Titan Security Doors, the outfit my favorite door-&-window retailer does business with, does offer a coupleof models(that’s two, count’em, 2) that aren’t excessively offensive:

Frank Lloyd Wright run amok
Okay, I don't hate this all THAT much...
Okay, I don't hate this all THAT much...

At first I thought Frank Lloyd Wright Drops Acidwould work, since the windows in front have a FLlW-like motif. But then La Maya pointed out that after you’ve looked at it for a minute or two, your eyeballs start to vibrate. Imagine two of those babies, back to back, spanning an Arcadia door. Ouch! Although We Wish We Lived on Nob Hilldoesn’t in any way fit the house’s general mood, neither does it cause pain to the eyes.

The cost of these charmers is so outrageous that if you have to ask, you can’t afford it. The window guy was here measuring a couple of days ago, but he still hasn’t called with an estimate. I figure he took one look around the place and realized there was no way I could pay to cover all the doors in back with the things.

Maybe the best strategy would be to put one on the kitchen door (which is just a regular exterior door) and a pair on the Arcadia door in the bedroom. This would secure the softest entrance, and it also would allow me to leave the bedroom door open at night, when the weather is nice. Then, if a miracle happens and I manage to hang onto my job for another couple of years, I can fortify the remaining two Arcadias. Meanwhile, I’ll just have to do the best I can to make it hard to open them.

Yard Sale, II

VickyC ended up clearing about $700 on the Big Yard Sale Adventure. We held the sale open again yesterday (Saturday) from about 7:00 a.m. to around 3:00 p.m., and she sold a great deal of Stuff.

We also ended up having a lot more fun yesterday, because we met a whole bunch of interesting people. On Saturday folks have time to stop and chat.

yardsaleThe sorta-gentrifying neighborhood of shotgun houses and 1920s bungalows where VickyC lives is extremely diverse, populated not only by wanna-be Yuppies, penniless now but one day to be affluent, but also by many Mexican immigrants who communicate through their English-speaking young children. A Sikh temple is a-building down the street, and so quite a few Sikhs live in the neighborhood—an interesting and friendly set. Then, for reasons unknown, a LOT of urban Indians dwell in the area, most of them Navajo or at least identifying with the Navajo nation. A number of impoverished artists also live nearby. All of these people love to shop in yard sales.

An appealing teenaged boy came by in his Sikh robes, two dollars to his name. He bought a few things and coveted—ooohhh how he coveted!—the bass guitar and huge amp that VickyC’s boyfriend had contributed to the event. Of course, the $550 asking price was out of the question. He left his phone number and asked VickyC to ask the boyfriend to call to discuss. This, as it developed, was serendipitous.

The young parents from across the street dropped by with their 15-month-old baby. Dad is fully engaged in neighborhood politics. He stopped to discuss his scheme to create a newsletter that he hoped would be free of the acrimony that has developed over the years as the result of resistance to an old-timer who wants everything his way (so we were told). In the course of a long conversation, we learned a lot about the neighborhood activists, the demographics, and the City’s machinations for and against the large area included in the neighborhood association’s territory.

canyondechellyA Navajo couple dropped by with their young teenaged daughter. They, to tell the truth, were slumming, Sunday driving on a Saturday afternoon by yard-saling through a part of the urb that they considered shaky enough to be dangerous.They lived in Chandler, where they had set up household so they could send their kids through good public schools, in the absence of the same on the Res. Very mainstream middle-class in appearance, they attributed the quality of the school system and the paucity of commerce on the Res to the entanglements of many overlapping layers of government bureaucracy and observed that both of their children were doing exceptionally well in the Chandler schools. They did, however, say they probably will retire to the Res after the kids grow up.

The high point of the day was a 40ish Navajo woman who befriended us with a great deal of chatter and much shopping. She loved VickyC’s mom’s taste in clothes, and she selected about $60 worth of stuff (at a buck apiece). In the course of time, she told us a great deal about herself and her life, talking much more than one expects from Southwestern Native Americans, who tend to be quiet people. It seemed to me that something was not quite right, and eventually she revealed what it was: shortly after she had lost a five-week-old baby, she had fallen out of a moving pickup on the Res and sustained a near-fatal head injury. She survived by dint of brain surgery in a New Mexico hospital (where she had to be airlifted), but it took a year of therapy before she could speak normally and walk. She was very affable and explained to us how she would ceremonially free the clothing of the dead woman from the spirit that might remain and return her (the spirit) to her home at VickyC’s. Eventually she walked home and then returned with some ceremonial items that VickyC could use to assist with this process; she explained how to use them and what all those customs meant, she said, “in your way.”

She waited around most of the day for her husband, who was junketing with his workers, to arrive with some cash. During this time, she folded clothes and kept us company. As one might expect, he was less than thrilled with the plan to fork over $60 or $70 for used valuables. VickyC dropped the price for the mountain of clothing she’d selected to $20 and he relented.

By this time, it was getting late. VickyC announced she was closing the show and started dragging stuff out to the curb, where she intended to leave it for free. When hubby heard this, his enthusiasm rose. Now he started to make his own selections of used valuables, among which, to VickyC’s delight, was an oak entertainment center she had not unloaded. A Mexican woman was also there when the “FREE” announcement came down. She loaded up all the clothes our Navajo friend rejected, along with stacks of kitsch and old cosmetics.

I suggested VickyC call the Sikh kid, since he also coveted a number of valuables but had run out of cash. He appeared in an instant, delighted to get a Giants athletic jacket, a bunch of other baseball clothes, and various tschochkies not to be missed. (What is that kid going to do with that stuff?)

These folks virtually vacuumed the front yard! By the time we were done, all we had to do was haul the trash to the bins in the alleys and carry the tables back inside.

So, it was a great success. To celebrate, we went to dinner at one of those urban underground restaurants that no one knows anything about but everyone should. If you’re ever in Phoenix, it’s the Piccolo Cucina at the corner of Oak and Seventh Street. Don’t miss it.
hágoónee’ for now

California Yard Sale
by S. Michael Miri