Adjustments for a New Season

August is about to wave ‘bye’. This month can be up and down and it has. I always look for the speck of autumn that is waiting on the other side of the Catalina Mountain range. I have written about this before, either in poems or essay. On Monday, the 21st when I let my kitties out early, the air was slight. Not heavy with the humidity that the recent half-hearted rains brought in. The impression was like a light step, bouncy almost. These mountains rise willfully to the northeast above the neighbor’s wall and a large Mesquite tree. This early Monday I noticed clouds were barely visible, snuggling up against the lower ridges of the mountain base.

I track this first sighting each year because, in my book, this is a simple ‘remark’ from Mother Nature that autumn is tossing us an invitation. High heat will roll back in for a few days, then wave ‘bye’.  Temperatures begin to edge down, the light begins to change, and the character of fall picks up its step. The sky is no longer blanched looking like faded talcum powder. Blue begins to bite back.

Fall has been my favorite season since the very first time I can remember, perhaps at the age of four when my brother and I first sat on the front step of our parent’s tiny house in the country after a long summer of play and other activities. Mom pulled either a sweater or lightweight jacket over us to go outside.  

Dark-weighted maple trees began their shedding one or two at a time and shortly by bucketful’s. Our collie was alongside my brother and me wherever we explored.  

Down the hill, across a small ‘branch’, up another hill sat mom’s youngest sisters’ two-story farmhouse. Mom forbade me to go alone or at all without her, but guess what? I went alone, climbing over barbwire fences, splashed across the ‘branch’, up through a few of my uncles’ beehives, and into their big flat grassy yard. Their leaves were falling also, trees taller than ours and much more to rake up or blow away. All five cousins were bunched together in a room reading, and napping, or the three oldest ones outside running wild. I spent many hours while we lived side by side at that house, upstairs, and downstairs, laying under the large oak trees reading books on a blanket, sneaking across the gravel road to the barn, stained to the neck picking blackberries and the laughter of our folks playing cards in the kitchen.   

Another sign that fall had landed is when mom moved the double wash tubs back onto the tiny back porch. There went our ‘poor man’s swimming pool.’

Our heat in Tucson is having its last hurrah and knows it. I have begun to sort out the empty pots where plants could not keep up with our summer heat, ordered a Home Depot reward points card to use at their nursery, and made a list to ‘re-do’ for the upcoming autumn parade. Once I jotted down my ‘cloud watching’, it motivates me to begin a big switch-up of cooking styles. I immediately pulled out my autumn recipes because I just can’t wait to filter through the flavors of fall to put on the table. I jumped the gun and decided to begin early.

Apples! – a must in fall cooking. Apple Hash is a superb accompaniment to a citrus herb glazed porkchop in cast iron.

2 Tbs grapeseed oil

2 cups thinly sliced Gold potatoes

1 cup thinly sliced red onion

Salt and pepper

2 cups cored and sliced Granny Smith

1 tsp Tabasco

Heat a large skillet (I use cast iron) over medium-high heat. Add oil. Add potatoes, and cook, stirring, 6-8 minutes until golden brown. Add onion, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-4 minutes until the onion begins to caramelize. Remove, and keep warm. Add oil if needed, then apples. Cook for 4 minutes, until apples are cooked. Add potatoes and onion back in, add Tabasco, and stir.

Thank you for reading the last post for our month of August and thinking about your autumn ideas. Would love for you to share.



Thursday Writing Prompt 8.24.23

Here is Part 2 from the 8.3.23 prompt.

On this night, there was a full moon. Each new moon has a name. Work into your story the name of the moon, and month and make it relevant to the night in question, either at the beginning, middle, or end of your story. Your choice.

If you have written, or writing, we invite you to send your story to be posted at a later date with your permission. We would love to share and discuss how prompts get the flow going and how your thoughts fall on paper.

Please send to Sally at her email,


A few years back on a July rainy evening, Linda, one of our original members for many years prepared a delicious chicken salad with curry on a bed of crisp mixed greens with crusty baguette bread. It was her turn to host and give a writing prompt. She passed around blank greeting cards and Diana, Jackie, and I choose one each to write a story from the artwork. Linda’s theme for each woman pictured on the card was ‘transformation’.

These were to be a complete flash fiction story 1,000 words or less. Here is my ‘transformation’.

I noticed Jolene the day she came into her first yoga class. She was tiny, shy, with a few freckles across her nose and strawberry braids. She didn’t look more than fifteen, although she was married at that age and now twenty-seven.

The instructor starts the soft music and dims the lights. Jolene spreads her purple towel and sits cross-legged, a look of relief gleaming across her face as she shuts her eyes. She wore no leotards, just a pair of cut-off denim shorts, worn threadbare, and a pink t-shirt faded from the sun after many mornings on the clothesline. This didn’t seem to sway her determination to come every week, at the same time as clockwork.

Every now and then, she came to class wearing blue jeans. I simply asked, “Aren’t those uncomfortable to bend in?” She said, “Hadn’t had time to wash.” She was too busy canning beans from the garden her husband made her put in. Found out later too from Martha who lives next door, it wasn’t the wash she couldn’t get done, it was pleasing her husband that couldn’t get done. I started to find out too much from Martha about Zeke. He was careful not to leave any of his bullying above the belt line.

I took pity on the gossip and made a point to talk to her more. I asked one day if she would like to go to a movie sometime.

“No, can’t.”

The following week I asked if she would like to come to church with me on Sunday. Maybe she was more religious than social.

“No, better not.”

A couple more weeks passed, and I asked one afternoon after Thursday’s class if she needed anything from Wal-Mart and wanted to go.

“I have to wait on Zeke to take me.” She frowned a tiny bit and slipped out the door. Martha ambled over to me and muttered, “Humph…that no good husband sees a girlfriend on Thursday afternoon, otherwise poor Jolene couldn’t get out of the house without him knowin’ about it.”

I finally gave up and decided to let it ride. I didn’t want to seem like a pest. Ten months and eleven days later, and mind you, not on a Thursday afternoon class, but a Monday evening class, she came in and had a tiny brown mustache drawn across her upper lip. It curled slightly at the ends and matched the curl of her soft peach lips. No one said a thing.

Jolene snapped her purple mat open, not the old purple towel, and sat down like before, crossed legs, hands balanced on knees, fingers pinched together, closing her eyes. The instructor began with an odd look and the lights dimmed and the warm-up began. Jolene sat in her spot and didn’t move. She didn’t rise to do a sun salutation, downward dog, or even the child’s pose (which fit her to a T). Nothing. Just sat with her little, brown-drawn mustache and a slight smile. The darndest thing I have ever seen.

After class, Jolene stood and rolled up her purple mat and came right over to me. I stared at this little pint-size young woman with the silly mustache drawn on by an eyebrow pencil across her lip and blurted out, “You taking too many hormone pills?” Jolene flipped a long strawberry blonde braid off her shoulder and replied, “Naw, I just finally woke up to take care of some business at home.”

Once we finished and ready to read, Linda turned on the coffee pot and served her fresh made strawberry pie with a huge dollop of whip cream to enjoy while we read our very different stories from the greeting cards artwork. This is a writer’s group evening.

Travel Writing from My Chair

I read many blogs of those who are busy traveling. ( and, to name two.  Places I have not had the privilege to explore, and places I have.

My husband and I have not traveled since 2018 on a fun trip. The few years prior was driving or flying back and forth to Illinois to deal with aging parents and squeeze time in-between to spend with other family members. I believe I was still recuperating from those years and allowed 2019 to pass with no concern, then Covid struck, and so did additional health issues for us. Since then, we have played it safe and kept the term Staycation as active as possible. I don’t fret over this because we spent our entire marriage coming and going all over, local and abroad. We did not believe in waiting for retirement. Let me share San Miguel de Allende.

Have you ever heard rain fall on the moss in San Miguel?  This small colonial city evokes the strongest of emotions in sensory perception; the senses of aging, timelessness, roughhewn stones covered in moss, and rattled vines. The cobbled smooth stones curve and wind up and down that form narrow streets and if on a sidewalk, one has to step in the street when meeting another.  

I think of my first of many trips to San Miguel de Allende with my husband, Allen, and the friends who introduced us to this undeniable jewel. This city is located in the far eastern part of Guanajuato, Mexico a part of the Bajío region, and lies 170 mi northwest from Mexico City, and 60 mi southeast from the state capital Guanajuato.

We stay at a lovely old hacienda called Casa Carmen located a block from the main Jardin, the heartbeat. I will jump directly to the food served by their charming three cooks. Breakfast and lunch were part of the package and rated right along with the high-end of go-to dining in the city. Our first taste of Chiles en Nogada captured the flair of the region on a plate. We requested this dish every time thereafter on our visits.   

The handmade plates held poblano chilies stuffed with ground meat, golden raisins and smothered in a white walnut sauce and sprinkled with pomegranate seeds—green, white, and red.  A Christmas dish favorite in certain parts of Mexico. This lunch was on a mild sunny day in mid-July, close to Allen’s and my anniversary. I have since made this dish at home on special occasions thanks to their willingness to share this splendid recipe and how quickly I have become a fan of pomegranates. These cheery sultry red seeds can dress up any room and how ingeniously they can be used…(fresh strawberries, raspberries, squeezed oranges, tequila, splash of triple sec, pureed with ice, and sprinkled with pomegranates) …now come on here!

One day we hopped on a Segunda Clase (second-rate bus) to take a long day trip to Guanajuato. We knew we had to sacrifice lunch at Casa Carmen and whined about it at breakfast. The three kind women cooks surprised us with a lunch of fried chicken, ham sandwiches, plantains, grapes, and bolillos in paper bags for us to take. (Details of these rides will come in another story). Once off the bus, we walked to the city’s largest market, Mercado Hidalgo which is two stories tall. We found a table outside the market with a bright red umbrella and bought cold cans of Modelo Especial. The vendor snapped open the tab, sprinkled salt on the rim, and squeezed fresh lime juice all over and in the beer. Wow! That first swig was an eye-opener.   

While eating, we noticed a handful of young boys eyeballing us. They kept inching closer and began to point at our meal. We gladly wrapped all the untouched and gave to the small boys. Their eyes lit up like small night fires, and they grappled over the brown sacks and contents. We then roamed through the market, found items to put in our big woven Bolsa bags, and grabbed another cold Modelo for the bus ride back to Casa Carmen.

Every minute of the day was full of the thrill for discoveries, enjoying the delight of a warm culture, taste bud virgins to new types of food, and the gravity that pulled us back year after year. My home is sprinkled with these trips and gave me endless inspiration. I can’t wait to share more and a trip to Delores Hildago when we ended up hitchhiking in the middle of nowhere to find the Talavera pottery factory.  Buenos Dias!

watercolor by Sally Showalter

Crusty Writing

Raw edges. Holes in the middle one can peek through. Burned pieces sifted through. Having just finished Abigail Thomas’ latest book, Still Life at Eighty, she once again confirms to me she is a crusty broad.  “I write to see what the back of my mind is doing while I’m doing nothing.” What she does is write. A lot. Now at eighty-two, I hope she has something more for us readers. She says when something catches her eye or keeps cropping up, she writes. These bits and pieces don’t have to get dressed up for the occasions because she explains she is distilling, not decorating. She flat out writes what she is figuring out or figured out, or just plain excepted. I so admire her jagged quality and her style is considered to be passionate and with unwavering honesty.

Her go-to is The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo-European Roots. In one of her short chapters, entitled Death, she goes to this book when she is stumped with a word. She describes what she finds, or thinks she finds because she can’t find her glasses and the light is dim. For a brief ecstatic moment, she thinks dead evolved from the verb flow, to rise in a cloud. She thinks how fun to open a window and evaporate like a mist. She then puts on her glasses and discovers she mistook dheu2 for dheu3 and writes, ‘…damn it, dead has always been just dead. Of course, it has. Dead is dead is dead and there is no story here…one day I will be as dead as a doornail, and what will that be like? Well, I’ll be dead. Dead is an ugly word. I don’t mind death, it rhymes with breath, even if it’s the last.’  Crusty.

Another favorite is Jim Harrison. I saw a movie made in 1990, Revenge, based on a story by Jim Harrison. This movie is crusty, raw, and jagged. A romantic thriller tragedy starring Kevin Costner, Madelin Stowe, and Anthony Quinn. James Gammon (Major League; Nash Bridges) plays the crustiest character I have seen in a very long time. For many years I searched in every possible bookstore, online, even called the Chamber of Commerce in Patagonia, Arizona where Jim lived part of the time to write. I figured I could weasel my way into a meet. He was still alive and writing, one of which, The English Major, 2008, is on my desk to read next. More years passed and each time I watched the movie my desire to have this book would flare up and a search continued. I wanted to read the ‘written story’, not the Hollywood version.

One day in early 2021 while reading a newsletter online, novellas are mentioned along with Jim Harrison’s name and a book entitled, Legends of the Fall, which contained three novellas of his. On Amazon, I opened the look inside, and the first story is Revenge. All these years I thought Revenge was a stand-alone novel, not a novella hidden away among two other short stories. I was ecstatic, just as Abagail must have been when she thought she would float away. (PS – novellas are beginning to be of great interest in my writing world).

Both of these superb authors have influenced my thoughts on writing. As in Abigail (memoir), who writes through the confusion for clarity to find meaning when meaning is hard to come by, and Jim (fiction) who nails nuances of character and honest complexities of storytelling.

These two are darn, good crusty writers.   

Thursday Writing Prompt 8.3.23

A woman in her early fifty’s roars into the local medium-security prison parking lot. She hauls items from her car, screaming and tossing these into the bed of a black pick-up truck. Security lights come on and all focus on her. What happens next?

Write a story, 750 words or less. My next turn to post a prompt on 8.24 will be Part 2 of the prompt.

Where’s the Almonds?

We experienced a very short, one-day, maybe two, break below 103. Today we begin a climb back to over 107. Every day in July was over 100 and in dire need of something refreshing.

Bing cherries have been bountiful this summer here in our local markets. Knee-deep red with highlights of carmine that glistens in your hand before being popped into the mouth. Delectable.  I have a bad habit of when I buy fruit, mainly in the melon family, if bland, I toss. If only I had some form of roving livestock in my backyard to take advantage of the throwaways.

Produce is being grown in a hurry, using all sorts of wands and whistles to get it picked, packed, and to stores, ready or not. I just will not tolerate fruit that mimics cardboard. This summer, we have found that wherever cherries are for sale they all have been juicy, sweet, tart, and a loaded pop of lush flavor which I cannot get enough of.

Last week my husband came home from our nearby 99-cent store with TWO quart-size bags of dark cherries. What are we going to do with two big bags of cherries before they go bad? He casually mentions, “Why not a cherry tiramisu?” Well, I love making tiramisu. I have a favorite winter recipe when eggnog hits the stores over the holidays. In the summer it is plump strawberries pureed with powdered sugar, fresh orange juice, and Grand Marnier, layered with more strawberries and blueberries intermingled with creamy cheese and whipped cream filling and well-mannered Ladyfingers which I keep a supply in my pantry. Those little delights are hard to come by and when found, I nab several packages.

I quickly googled and found a recipe right away and I held all the ingredients on hand but the mascarpone cheese. I bought three. Cherry Almond Tiramisu. I read the recipe, and while putting together, I kept looking for where the almonds entered into the picture. At the very bottom, after a third reading, it states: To omit the alcohol (Amaretto), make the simple syrup as directed, then add ¼ cup of water and a scant teaspoon of almond extract. (

Ah-ha! Almond enters the scene. Therefore, I name my version Cherry Amaretto Tiramisu.  

Never allow a recipe to fool you into not giving it a go.

This Beginning

In 1979 a few days before this date of the 26th in July, a discussion was in serious pursuit.  Allen and I were about to make a big decision. I said, “Ok, but we’ll see in ten years where we are at.” Would it sound reasonable today, forty-four years later, how the first ten years sped by so quickly? In 1989 we laughed and said, um, we need more time together.  

A couple of days ago while sitting in the living room, a storm possibly brewing down south of us, he said, “That day I was so happy and in disbelief.” My memory easily skirted back to how we planned to leave early from our jobs, change into better clothes, drive to Bisbee to the courthouse, and enter the judge’s chambers at two o’clock. We had told no one. I can feel, see, and understand it as if yesterday. I knew he was happy, and so was I or we wouldn’t be doing such a spur-of-the-moment, lifetime change.  

“Why in disbelief?” He said, “Because I couldn’t believe you would ever marry me.”

I have always kept a diary since I was fifteen and when in my early fifties, I dug those out, glanced at them, and tossed them out forever. Once Allen and I ‘got together’, I jotted down more details, places, people, events, and feelings for years and years. A few months ago, I began reading through all those ‘marriage’ journals. It is amazing what I am finding out. Patterns being set, patterns that should have spoken loudly as to the future but ignored for various reasons. Noting the smallest of details that would end up having more than one huge impact on life actions that could have been avoided or maintained in a better fashion. The things we did, the things others did, the effects of all. But isn’t that part of living on stairsteps, up and down, up and down, all of which take you places?

But in every entry, I also noted the pattern of what it takes to be together, the outlying and underneath sources that bind. Recently, we gratefully reviewed the lessons of the necessity of patience and the value it gives. Waiting on the right moment, the right day, or even the right year. The usage and acreage of patience are broad.

Our story, like many others, is our own. And here we are, having conversations without words required at times and having conversations we enjoy hearing each other say. I could go on. What we are looking forward to is that we are here, in each other’s eyesight, hearing distance, and care.

Knowing what I know now, if to rewind  backward to that afternoon in 1979 when Allen asked me, I probably would’ve said “Ok, but let’s see where we are in fifty years.”

Time goes far too fast — frankly my dear, a true Happy Anniversary!

112…and counting

I was going to write about a little writing workshop Diana and I attended last Friday early evening, but it’s too HOT. I was going to explain how lovely it was to be among ‘live’ people writing, pens humming across the paper, soft sighs easing out before a finished sentence all the while trying not to let the blaring crazy music coming from speakers in the corner nook at a local Bookman’s in Tucson, but it’s too HOT. I believe the temp last Friday was 107 at that time of the evening.

Earlier in the day I took a summer meal to a friend who had light surgery. Chilled shrimp over lemony couscous, fresh snap sugar peas, and a yogurt lemon dressing. It was 109. Fortunately, the bright-flavored dish stayed crisp.

Half my potted plants have paled, withered, and lost desire, just as I feel because it’s HOT. Watering twice a day instead of once is a bit of a perk, but not for all.

Storm thunderheads are late, dallying south and across borders, but one did suddenly appear and surprise Monday late afternoon. The temp that day was 110. Rain and wind blew in with such force, it snapped power lines, blew off tree limbs, and at our house, tipped wrought iron chairs over on our porch. HOT cooled down to a fabulous 75 for a short period.

Did you know people are flocking to enter Death Valley to experience the record-breaking temps of 130 – 132, The entry is called Furnace Creek Visitor Center. I say just go to their local crematory for free.

Monday, yesterday, today, tomorrow, and the day after, 112, 113, breaking records…HOT. My brain is mush, and my desire is worse. I am having a hard time focusing on writing, absolutely no yard work, and ideas for cool meals. Literally ‘cool’ food. While dumping ice into my morning coffee (no HOT) at the moment, I did think of another nice salad for our lunch today.

Stay cool everyone!

Thursday prompt 7.13.23

We have been skimming along in the month of July which began the halfway point of the year. Time management experts suggest harnessing this opportunity to review actions and set new goals for the rest of the year before July limps or bounces off stage.

Things to consider: What is working for you? What isn’t? Did your New Year’s resolutions stick? Have you turned your daily exercise into a habit rather than a chore? Still eating those delicious greens? Ummmmm…