The header picture is a cliff bordering Saguaro Lake west of the Phoenix metro area taken by me about fifteen years ago. Manipulating the photo so it would fit resulted in cutting off part of it. One of these years I'll get it right. The lake is one of the water recreation areas along the Salt River where the locals go to get wet during the hot summers. They enjoy tubing down the river below the lake also. We were taking the Dolly steamboat tour that day. The Dolly has since been relocated to the Lake Havasu area on the Colorado.
Friday, we took a jaunt out to Quartzite, the snowbird magnet town in the western Arizona desert , and it was crowded with all the "birds," passers through and gawkers like us. Quartzite is not far from the California border on I-10, about 125 miles west of Phoenix. The reason for the trip was an article in the local paper about a bookstore that was offering book signings to authors, so we checked it out. The name of the bookstore is Readers Oasis Books and Paul, the bearded owner, was there IN HIS THONG and coat helping out the customers. He has an informal author's fair in January and February. When I talked to him, he pointed out the area where authors could sign their books and said there was no charge for it, just come out anytime between the hours of 10 AM and 3 PM, bring your books, table and chair, and wait for customers any day of the week.
The store has a large number of books, the paper said over 180,000, including music and audiobooks, mostly used, it appeared to me, and all wrapped tightly in clear paper. Going through some of the westerns, I picked out Johnny D. Boggs' East of the Border, and a short story collection Legend containing stories by Elmer Kelton, James Reasoner, Ed Gorman, and others, and Jack M. Bickham's The Apple Dumpling Gang (the most expensive of the three, cost $5.00). Apple Dumpling is a hard-back, the other two, pocket books. There was a good selection of westerns available. If you live anywhere near Palms Springs, CA, you could buzz over there in a couple of hours and check it out. I'm still undecided about giving it a try, but I might go out there for a day and see how my book sells against the stiff competition inside.
I didn't spend too much time in the store as my wife was waiting in the car, She had no interest in it until we were pulling out and I told her she missed the naked man. That got her attention and she had to take a look at the owner as we left, but couldn't see much except for a glance at his well-tanned legs. A picture of Paul Winer, owner, is below from an ad in the Quartzite Nugget. An article in the Nugget gives a nice bio of him. He spent 25 years as a boogie and blues piano player going by the name "Sweet Pie." He was a member of the Vermont Poet Society and taught poetics and writing at Mark Hopkins College. Paul had owned and managed the Vermont Stoveside Press in Cabot, Vermont, and published many regional poets in handcrafted small press editions. There is a more dignified photo of him in a red jacket and black turtleneck sweater, but the article said he was a lifelong nudist and it provides a more detailed biography.