Dry Heat My House

Estimated read time 6 min read

This is a long-ish entry. However, it’s mostly pictures.

A Cutting Remark

When my kitchen knifes literally started falling apart, the only thing I was unhappy about was spending money to get a replacement set.

I knew I needed to replace the old set. They were bad a while ago. I’d been postponing because I wanted a better-quality set than what we were replacing. Then disintegration reached the point I couldn’t keep waiting. I bought this set (link goes to the Amazon listing) and they were delivered a couple of days ago. Not the rock-bottom cheapest, but close.


Cheap or not, they were highly rated on Amazon – 4.7 stars with 22K reviews is about as good as it gets. I still didn’t expect much, considering the price.

Guess what? The difference in these and what I was using is night and day. I’m a happy camper.

Plan B, Part 1

Plan A was house porn for today’s entry. I’m happy to say Plan B won out.

G and I spent an “us” day. First, we visited a new antiques/collectibles mall in Casa Grande, the “big” (50K-ish residents) town near us. It opened earlier this week. Most booths are still empty. A few offered collections, vintage or otherwise:


What’s more, the majority of prices we saw were reasonable, even for vintage and antique items. We spied a gorgeous MCM china cabinet which would never fit into our tiny house. It was in perfect condition, $125.

The blue mercury-glass jars shown right and above were $15 apiece. They’re not vintage, and I don’t care. If there were any way I could make space for them in the house, these would already be mine.

Alas, I can’t, and they aren’t.

Our house is overflowing. In fact, we’re joining forces with our youngest daughter in a couple of weeks to do a garage sale at their house, because we ALL have too much stuff.

Plan B, Part 2: Rocks

Besides our excursion to the antiques mall, we also tooled over to Coolidge, visiting to the Pinal Geology Museum and the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (which is ironically not in the city of Casa Grande).

If I haven’t mentioned before, G and I are avid rockhounds. We’d never been to the geology museum before and weren’t expecting much. We still wanted to go. While it wasn’t comparable to something you’d see in a city the size of Phoenix or LA, what we actually found wasn’t bad for a teeny town in the middle of nowhere.

There were some distinctly kiddie-geared displays, like the dinosaur corner, featuring roary-growly sound effects. It’s interesting we still assume dinosaurs roared instead of clucking or chirping, now we know they’re related to birds.


Some (but not all) of the more spectacular fossils were replicas.

There were locally-sourced pieces, like this azurite-malachite beauty. (Azurite is dark royal blue; malachite is the deep hunter green.)


One of the more unexpected exhibits was this carving. This is made from an emerald conglomerate – and from what I can tell, the figures themselves are mostly emerald in composition:



Aside from the displays, there were hundreds of rock and mineral specimens for sale, for far less money than you’d pay in a rock shop. We’re planning to return in a few weeks and bring along our granddaughter. Adjacent to the dinosaur exhibit is a kids’ “dig” area. It’s a glorified sandbox that’s been salted with small fossils. The kids get to dig up four, and get to keep one of the four. Addy (our granddaughter) has the rockhound gene in spades. She’ll be overjoyed.

All the previous photos from today’s post were taken with my phone. I’m pleasantly surprised at how well they turned out.

Plan B, Part 3: House Porn?

When we visited the national monument, though, we hauled out the real cameras, our Nikons.

Casa Grande means Great/Grand House in Spanish. In a sense, you still get house porn, though certainly not the kind of house I normally include. The Casa Grande ruins are what’s left of an adobe settlement completed circa the 1300s and abandoned 100 years later.

A 14th-century building in Europe is nothing unusual. Unlike a 14th-century European house built with stone, however, a 14th-century Native American structure made with adobe doesn’t age well. Adobe is mud. Sun-baked mud; still mud. Even in the desert, time isn’t kind to mud.


If it looks like it’s partly melted, it’s because it’s partly melted. Melted or not, this thing lives up to the name Great House. At least one archaeologist believes this was in fact a palace or equivalent. It’s easy to see why.


I normally edit people out of my photos. In this case, I left them for perspective. The primary structure, shown here, is four stories high. Those walls are massive. This is the only mostly-intact building in a huge rectangular compound, and multiple compounds comprise the archaeological site. Most of the remaining walls have been reduced to rounded mounds, though there are still a few standing remnants of walls in the vicinity:


The distinctive conical mountain in the background is locally known as “Nipple Peak”. It’s legal designation is Walker Butte (despte the “C” inscribed at the top, which stands for Coolidge). Walker Butte is a dormant volcano, one of a couple of dozen in the state. We have some still considered active.

Mountain Out of a Mole Hill

My rockhound-itis is part of a greater fascination with geology. If I’d stayed at NAU, I can virtually guarantee I’d have changed to a geology major. It would have taken me in very different and higher-paying directions. So please allow me to indulge my love of the subject.

Sunset Crater, northeast of Flagstaff, last erupted 1000 years ago. A millennium is a long time in human chronology, barely a short nap in a volcano lifespan.

Other active volcanoes in the state include the Uinkaret (along the Grand Canyon) and the Pinacate fields (mostly in Mexico, including only a small area of far southwestern Arizona).

What? You didn’t know the Grand Canyon was along an active volcano? Neither did I until tonight.

Nor did I know until today that the San Francisco fields near Flagstaff (Sunset Crater is part of the group) includes more than 600 volcanic cones of different types. I knew with the most recent eruption 1000 years ago it was still active, just didn’t recognize the scope. So also… yikes.

I didn’t do any sepia photos today. I hope you still enjoyed the color shots I posted. These weren’t so much artsy-fartsy pieces as just to share some of the places and things we saw.

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  1. 1

    Love the color shots, phone and Nikon both. Even if they were just snapshots, they were nicely framed and captured. Fascinating about the Indian great house, and volcano/Grand Canyon connection. But…I can’t for the life of me figure out why that structure is colloquially known as “Nipple Peak”. Hmmm. Must do some research….

    Congrats on the knives! Do yourself, and them, a big favor and get yourself a sharpening steel. A long one (the shorter ones are not adequate for the task). Then use it often. Ideally every time you use it, but if you have physical limitations of course then just as frequently as you can manage. If G knows how to use a whet stone, sharpening them once a year is a good idea. Don’t sharpen too often though, as that grinds away metal (unlike using the steel) and you could end up with a much smaller knife than you purchased! (Made this mistake with my first real chef’s knife, which ended up with the cutting edge turning convex!)

    BTW, I love malachite! Easily my favorite semi-precious stone 🙂

    • 2

      We have a sharpening steel – but thank you for the reminder about how often to use it. I was planning to pick your brain but you beat me to it.

      Malachite is relatively common in this part of the world. It’s one of several “waste” products from copper mines that are semi-precious stones. Others include turquoise, gem silica, chrysocolla, and shattuckite. Most blue/green stones are that color range because they contain copper.

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