Author: leilani

Off the Beaten Path

Off the Beaten Path

Lotsa photos ahead.

We did the first leg of our photo-centric road trip Tuesday, heading south toward Tucson. Stopped short of the big city, hitting all the tiny outposts along and off the highway. I knew some of these towns existed, but hadn’t ever been there. Keep in mind we went hunting for old and crumbling edifices, and not all the homes we saw were as bad as the ones I’m posting. Many of these places nonetheless qualify as “ghost towns”, because  they grew to bursting around mines, then the mines ran out and so did the neighborhood.

Our road trip was in honor of G’s birthday, which is today. The featured cake picture is also from today.

Click on the smaller photos below to see them embiggened.

This boarded-up house sits in a place called Winkelman. Its downfall was a one-two punch: the mines ran out, and their tax dollars left with them. Unfortunately the little community had just voted in a huge school bond, saddling this type of home with thousands of dollars of property tax, far out of proportion for what it should have been.

Thia little row of cabins was too perfect not to  photograph. They’re situated in Oracle, Arizona, just a smidge north of Tucson.

Not everything in these little communities were in ruin. This barber shop was neat as a pin. Contrary to what you might think, the roads are paved, though they’re certainly nothing fancy.

This building collapsed, its roof unable to hold its weight any longer.

This is the inside of the abandoned service station. The outside  of the building is several photos down.

When we stopped at the Tom Mix monument, we were struck by the enormity of the crows Those birds are HUGE.

Stucco failed after decades of neglect

This used to be the local equivalent of DQ. Now it’s dry milk – and everything else.

The reverse of the Dairy Fresh sign.

Most of our trip was open desert like this – except power lines. At no point did we hit a point where there were no power lines in view.

This empty edifice was also in Winkelman.

Late as it is in the summer, we were surprised to see fruit still clinging to cactus. Usually some critter or another would have feasted on it by now.

Different type of cactus, but still more fruit. And yes, most cactus fruit is safe for human consumption. You can buy cactus jelly and cactus candy at several little stores statewide.

This old stone garage actually houses an equally dilapidated Toyota pickup. I simply couldn’t put all 200+ photos on the blog page!

We went from patches of all brown, to sections like this where greenery prevailed. There were a few plants still in bloom, after 120 degree weather a couple of weeks back.

As the sign says, this chopped-off trestle marks the entry to the town of Hayden. It was getting late enough in the day we didn’t have time to drive into  Hayden, unfortunately.  That’s an adventure for another day.

Desert wildlife? Well… not technically wild. G tried to pet this gorgeous creature, but the horse wasn’t having it.

An altogether different critter here. This  man-sized kachina sits outside an antiques and collectibles store in Oracle. He’s one of hundreds of amazing and kitschy outer ornaments on site.

There were several places in town where old mining equipment was on display. This little tractor was in front of a business.

This is a tiny part of the Ray copper mine. The tailings from this massive open-pit operation stretch miles.  The hillsides look like patchwork quilts, with sections of different colors throughout. This photo was taken at a visitor outlook, showing just one small section of the mine.

This monument commemorates Tom Mix. He died here in the 1940’s. His car was caught in a flash flood.

This is adjacent to the Ray mine. It shows the state of the landscape before mining stripped everything away.

Not far from the Tom Mix monument. I’d been all over the state before, but hadn’t ever driven this particular stretch of road until this week.

Another view of the mine. Hard to capture the scope. It’s gigantic.

This little cowboy teapot was inside the antiques place at Oracle. (Yes, I know the pictures are all disorganized. So sue me, lol.)

Not falling down, but definitely bright yellow with purple trim. You can’t ignore bright yellow with purple trim.

Not just the houses were abandoned to the elements.

This is the sign outside the abandoned gas station. This spot is near Florence, Arizona, at the earliest leg of our journey.

Inside the antiques and collectibles store. Anybody want a ginormous metal spider? Est. 36″ across, give or take.

These two smokestacks rise above the landscape. Can’t recall their exact location -maybe Mammoth, AZ?

And I’m finally getting around to showing you the gas station I’ve been talking about in other photos. The door was collapsed to one bay, leaving the building open to the elements.

And more outside the antiques and collectibles place in Oracle. Love the welded skeletons and other “people” statues scattered over the property. Big skeleton,  in this case!

Another view of the kachina man and his surroundings. I think he’s the sentry for his corner.

Not sure where we saw this old tractor. I think it may also have been in Oracle, but not sure it was at the antiques and collectibles site. There was an old mining vehicle nearly everywhere you looked in that little town!

One last shot from the exterior of the antiques and collectibles spot. Most of this stuff is for sale, if you’re in the market for kitschy antique-ish goodies.

I believe this brilliant orange tow truck still operates. It certainly brightens up its corner in Dudleyville!

Do you remember the abbreviated train trestle at the Hayden sign, above? This is its other half, across the street.

Love that the green paint on this wagon has survived the Arizona sun, for who knows how many years.

In other news, the job interview was kind of a bust. I drove the 30+ miles this morning, only to get a call saying the interview was rescheduled to 3:30. I started back, only to get ANOTHER call saying no, now it was 12:30. Then when I arrived and signed in with the security guard (who took my photo for a badge, one he put my name on). A few minutes later a woman came on to ask if I was there. The guard said no. Luckily I overheard and corrected him.

The interviewer had NONE of my information, had the personality of a cardboard donut, and about the same attention span. I won’t rule out a job altogether, but not holding my breath. This was someone clearly not prepared and who just as clearly didn’t want to be there. For this I’d been rescheduled not once but TWICE in the same day?? I emailed the temp agency recruiter and told him as much, for what it’s worth, and asked him if he had any other openings for me, because I felt like this company didn’t have it together at all.

In For a Penny

In For a Penny

I’ve seen the gradual implosion of my current working conditions, as one after another good person is slammed into a quivering heap. People make mistakes, particularly in an environment where literally everything changes by the minute, and literally every manager tells you something different. Considering that, to watch good people get ground underfoot pisses me off to no end, and it’s emptying the building at the speed of light. Add to that pay cuts totaling thousands of dollars per month for a lot of our top performers (each), and it’s pretty easy to identify a company poised on the brink of going out of business.

Not only is the above not an exaggeration, it’s just a small slice of the big, messy pie. I’ve been reasonably lucky to date, escaping any major grinding sessions. (I assume they just haven’t gotten around to me yet.) The atmosphere did a full 180-degree turn from when I was hired, and adding to that, the administration did precisely what they swore to me verbatim, “We’ll never [do].”

The image associated with this post? That’s what this job is feeling like. I push every day, and every day it doesn’t budge.

I have the luxury of a small financial cushion, if needed. However, it’s possible it won’t ever be touched. I am being actively recruited for another job. It’s one which, if it turns out to be as promising as it sounds, would make a huge difference in our living situation. The pay would be well over double what I now make, plus benefits and perks. In fact, it would come damned close to triple my current income. Kind of a big difference, far too big to dismiss or ignore. I didn’t seek out the job. The job sought me. We’ll see whether or not it pans out. If it doesn’t, I’ll start looking in earnest, before things go any further down the rabbit hole at my o’dark thirty job.

I’m perfectly calm about things, and not walking out until I have something else lined up. But I expect to give two weeks’ notice and be walked out. That’s the company’s pattern, and I’m fine with it.

Eleventh Hour

Eleventh Hour

The title of this entry sounds ominous, doesn’t it? Ooooh, the eleventh hour

Not exactly ominous, though it’s a situation rife with complications. We have ten grandchildren now. There is probably going to be an eleventh. The pregnancy is confirmed. Everything else is up in the air. All things considered, G and I are trying to remain neutral ’til we find out which way the wind blows.

We did a marathon shopping day today – if you follow me on FB, you already know we bought a new sofa and recliner. I found a sofa I loved at the first place we stopped, but G nixed it on the basis of comfort. Both G and I skew to the short side, and a lot of sofas are too deep for us to sit comfortably. Either our feet dangle above  the floor, or we can’t sit all the way back, or both. Usually it’s both. The one we bought was one of a handful that “fit”. The recliner was my issue – almost none of the models we saw offered support under my knees. The one we bought was literally the only one that ticked the support box. I’ll probably end up living in the thing more than anyone else does, so G didn’t want to make a decision on it at all. I still insisted he sit and see if he thought it was comfy. (He did.) It wasn’t my favorite in appearance, but it’s the right thing for my body.

We agreed a while back to get a new sofa and recliner, and eliminate a disintegrating loveseat and a pair of oversized chairs. It should make a lot better use of our space. The sofa is slightly longer than our existing sleeper loveseat, but we’re trading two oversized club chairs for one small recliner. We’re also getting rid of a tatty ottoman that we’ve been using as an end table. G gets to do the interior designer thing, because 1) he’s better at it than I am and 2) I don’t have time anyway.

We plan to give our old furniture away. The chairs are in good condition, just not suited to the space. The loveseat is part of what was originally a sectional. While it isn’t spectacular, it isn’t torn or stained, and it is a sofa bed. What”s more, the bed is actually comfortable for sleeping. With that in mind, we figure someone can use them. Local FB groups always have someone begging for furniture due to family misfortunes. If we can help someone, everyone wins.

Apart from the furniture hunting marathon, we made a half dozen stops trying to track down an adapter for our new range hood. The old one developed a short, and the replacement didn’t fit our non-standard vent. G finally found something he can jury rig to do the job. Since it’s not an electrical component or fire risk, I’m all for it.


Dollar Holler

Dollar Holler

My body is still rebelling against the change of schedule, which – as it worked out – ended up being a waste of effort. The whole principle of going to o’dark thirty in the morning was to make more money. The company has now determined that ain’t happening, honey. I assume, based on the way it’s being handled, the intent is to empty the building within the next couple of months. It’s a system that sounds nice on paper, but we’ve already lost half our workforce, just as we’re getting ready to hit our busy season, and our top performers are going to take a hike the second the new pay structure kicks in. These are people who will literally lose $3000 a month or more under the new system. I don’t know yet how much it’s going to cost me, but I gather it’ll be a fair amount.

It was either a gross miscalculation or the first step toward closing down the center. I’m lucky enough to have some cushioning, so it’s not the end of the world for me. I feel for some of my colleagues, who are scrambling to find other work asap. I’m looking, too, don’t get me wrong – but I don’t panic over it. There are too many jobs now that pay more than this one will pay, and I have both the experience and the financial coverage to wing it for a bit, if need be.

The irony is that this is the one specific thing I was told – in my original interview – that this company would never, ever do. The lack of integrity alone is enough to make me look elsewhere.

Being dumped into a team with a shiny new (micro)manager doesn’t help the situation. I don’t hate the new manager as a person, and I know her intentions are good, but as a manager she’s truly awful. She’s been picking on one person in particular (it’s stupid obvious), and is directly responsible for that person losing several hundred dollars on just one paycheck. Stupid move, which refers back to why this person should never have been promoted to manager in the first place.

Saddest part is, this isn’t a new company. The corporate structure’s been around for a long time. But the local management doesn’t seem to have a clue. That level of miscalculation (or intent – still haven’t figured out for sure which applies) will spell the death knell for this center, unless someone upstairs keys in and dismisses the top brass. That isn’t usually what happens, of course. The top brass stays on, or worst-case scenario is sent off with a golden parachute, while the workforce gets kicked in the teeth.

Which is why a good chunk of our workforce has already taken a hike, with the rest in the process. This is a “right to work” state, which means management can screw with you any way you like, and you’ll end up with nothing for your trouble, if you choose to stay on. You can be kicked to the curb for any reason or no reason, on the whim of management, and you have no recourse. Your salary can be jacked up all over the place, and you have no recourse. (Trust me – minimum wage laws here are loose suggestions only in this part of the world.) The only positive aspect of the atrocious rule is that you can walk out with no repercussions, too. I don’t know of anyone in our department who isn’t planning to leave.

I’m comfortable that things will work out. I’m hoping to find something closer to home, maybe even something on a M-F schedule. If I had my say we’d leave the state, but G might have a literal heart attack at the prospect.



As a writer, I’m aware of words, in the most intimate way possible short of printing something on a prophylactic. Therefore, as a writer, I’m cognizant of what words mean, of the power they convey, and the messages they impart. Onomatopoeia is, if anyone doesn’t know, words for sounds, such as BOOM for an explosion, and hee-haw for the sound a donkey makes. I heard it on Reading Rainbow, back when my kids were little.

In this day and age, we’ve coined new expressions for certain sounds. For example, Fake News is the sound a President makes when he’s lying through his ass. It’s ironically a kind of camouflage, one which only works on the people behind the President when he makes it. You’d think they’d smell the stench when he lets one rip, but I guess the camouflage masks smells, too, if you’re in the right position. Or maybe if you’re in that position by choice, it’s because you have no senses left.

Grab ’em by the pussy is the sound of women being attacked, demeaned, and dismissed. It’s also the sound a man makes to indicate he’s unfit for any business, office, or position of authority. This one positively reeks, most likely because it’s been around so long. It’s also a symptom of a backward society. If you hear this sound, run. The source is rotten and when it blows, it’ll take everything out with it.

This one is  the sound of a nation on the verge of failure: Why can’t we use nuclear weapons? I think most of us understand the implications of this sound (except those behind Trump. See Fake News, above.)

Other sounds are laughable, until you pay attention. Case in point: I will build a great great wall on our southern border and I’ll have Mexico pay for that wall. This repulsive sound is one similar in scope and meaning to Grab ’em by the pussy. If you hear this sound, however, be aware that no wall is likely to be erected any time soon, unless it’s a wall designed to keep Americans from escaping and tainting the rest of the world. This is the sound made by civil rights at their execution. It’s a tragic sound and one which may become our irreversible funeral dirge.

Nobody who works 40 hours a week should be living in poverty. This is the sound of a society hanging on by a thread. It’s the acknowledgment of human dignity, tempered by the acknowledgment that human dignity is an endangered species.

These are only a few of the catchphrases we should be listening to, and reacting to. The problem is that so few are paying attention these days, even when humanity as a race is lying wounded and dying.

Are you listening?

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