Tag Archives: arizona

Too clever is dumb. – Ogden Nash


i was in arizona, visiting my sister and her family, and we crossed the border to go bargain shopping at a market in mexico. we saw lots and lots of wonderful things for sale, but there was one item i simply could not resist. i have always been a huge fan of pinatas, and of all of the celebrations and craziness that go with them, and i saw one that topped all the others. it was a giant. life-sized, santa claus piñata. i knew right away it had to be mine. and, in the spirit of being in the open-air market, i knew i would drive a hard bargain for st. nick. 


soon after, there were 5 seconds of tough negotiations that went something like this,

‘how much for that santa?’

’10 dollars and 25 cents.’

‘how about 10 dollars?


i knew i had been so clever, and had gotten the bargain of a lifetime. i was so happy, and santa and i kind of walked off with a newfound swagger, as i talked about how clever i had been, how the seller didn’t know how much this gem was worth, and how clever i really was.

we drove to the airport and i checked in, proud to be carrying my new friend santa, ready to show him how we like to celebrate the winter holidays in michigan. we got lots of odd looks, smiles and questioning faces, but no matter. it was so clever, that we had ended up together, and for such a bargain price. it was at the ticket counter, however, that my ‘so clever’ bubble was quickly popped,  i was told the following: ‘he’s too big to stow above, you’ll have to buy him his own seat.’ what, my $10.00 clever bargain santa would now cost me hundreds to get home??

and soon after, yet another round of intense negotiations took place:

‘okay, what are my other options?’

‘there is only one.’


we found a compromise. santa could fly with the luggage in the cargo section of the plane, and i had to be willing to accept that he may not look the same upon arrival. we parted ways – him on a conveyer belt, and i walked down a long hallway. i imagined all sorts of terrible things happening to him without his clever mama watching over him, but he would have been an expensive companion to have on board.

when i landed i saw him coming around the luggage carousel, feet first, and with a toe tag on. i thought about how he looked like he was in a morgue, and i knew it had been a very rough flight for him. i picked him up, stood him upright, and as we walked away, he was not quite as jolly, and i, not quite as clever. it had been a good run of clever for both of us though, and how quickly it was over.  

The desire to seem clever often keeps us from being so.  –   Francois de La Rochefoucauld






holy toledo batman!!!




  life experiences, good, bad, and otherwise, during a whirlwind weekend, helping my  niece find a house to rent for her upcoming grad school stint in toledo, ohio.

  • even though it is located less than 1 hour away, it is in another state and i know nothing about the city except: it has an amazing minor league baseball team – the mud hens, has a great zoo, is known as ‘glass city’ for it’s artists, and is different than toledo, spain. 
  • even though it is pretty much a straight shot down the highway from where i live, i have an incredibly horrendous sense of direction, leading us to experience many other places along the way. niece casually asks if i have gps on my phone. 

–  ‘siri’ on my phone gets testy, and says, ‘i don’t know what you are asking, do you want me to look that up for you?’, and know we will have to sweet-talk her from here on out. 

–  our day begins in toledo with a stop at a local breakfast spot to meet a kind friend to give us neighborhood advice, and we get to choose between such selections as: ‘uncle moose’s manhandler’ and a ‘bounty of the sea’ breakfast crepe,  and you just know it is going to be a wonderful day. 

  • when the first house we look at and a woman who claims to be a local ‘realtor’ does the following: dresses as a burnt out drag queen, fishes into her ample cleavage to pull her purple cell phone out of her bra to take a call, says she ‘is not allowed’ to tell us how the neighborhood is, has to stay back to ‘reset the alarm’, and does not have any business cards, it is going to be a special day.

– when my niece, being from sweet, small towns in arizona begins to understand that we are in a city, and can base our ‘good and bad neighborhoods’ decision on how many people are out on the streets and not working, or perhaps making deals on the street, it will be a life-lesson kind of day.

  • when we decide to do ‘drive-bys’ of the many other potential homes, to eliminate those  not close to school or safe in any way, we eliminate the majority of them and stop for a break at a local coney spot. 
  • when the family-run coney spot waitress snaps and yells out, ‘i am not delivering any more food, i have to ring up at the register, he can damn well do it himself!,’ and yells at my niece to plug my phone in for a recharge under the table and we unplug their neon ‘open’ sign, it is the lunch experience of a lifetime. 
  • after the lunch experience we have 4 more places to look at, have a graduation party to attend back at home, and my car, ‘the red devil’ begins to get hot, it is a moment of truth. 
  • we find a random auto shop to check the red devil before she blows and the highlight of the day and our adventure continues. 
  • we pull into Toledo Motor Sports at 4154 Monroe Street, and the owner, ali, takes a look under the hood. he and his mechanic determine it will need some new heating and cooling thingamajigs. we are a captive audience, completely at their mercy at this point, and i can certainly appreciate their honesty and fair pricing. of course one part is located in a hard to get to, bizarre place in the car. the time estimate is 2 hours. 
  • as time winds on, we reschedule the rest of our appointments for the next day, visit with another customer, jump in and offer her my unsolicited auto repair advice, swap stories and 6 degrees of separation family connections, tell jokes, recharge my phone again, use their computer to look up addresses, laugh a lot, get neighborhood advice, share pictures, and we continue on that way all afternoon, as we find out more bad news about the car. even though we are treated like important business guests at an out of town marriott, you know it is going to be a long day.  4 hours later, after the very generous owner walks to a gas station to buy us water and a bag of junk food to sustain us, (we must appear quite sweaty and pathetic at this point), the red devil is ready to go back on the road again. we have found the best repair shop in the city and i would recommend them to anyone. 
  • we drive back and make it to the grad party and sleep for 12 hours.
  • day 2 and back to toledo – we meet incredible landlords, also honest and fair and generous. it is as if we have landed in a whole new housing market. 

– we see a random sign for a house on a pretty street and are met there by miss lillian, an 86 year old firecracker, dressed in flowered pants and full of life. this house is a jewel on a beautiful street, safe and calm and a bike ride to school. we do a 30 second drive by tour of the campus and it is lovely and the sun is shining.after we take care of 657 other details, like where are we going to get the money, we make a deal and head back to a surprise party that i’ve planned but will now be very late for. it has been a weekend filled many special moments. 


 where we spent our lovely spring afternoon in toledo, ohio – even the owner is laughing