It’s not easy being green

This is how many taxi’s and queues it takes to get from Oklahoma City to Mesa Arizona. (For Carrie, the wait-time measuring sock is Opal sockyarn #3207)




is how long the flight from Oklahoma City to Phoenix is. (I may have accidentally fallen asleep on the flight and missed some knit time there. Your mileage may vary.)

I am, more or less, a “green” person. I am always impressed with the greeness of things. A forest or the tropics, lush, overgrown, verdant, ripe green places move me.

The desert stunned me. When I got here yesterday, the lack of true green was the first thing that I noticed. There are many trees, yes, there are many plants…yes, but everything is a silver green, or a gray green, or a blue green…There is, to the untrained eye, very little deep jewel green in Mesa. It is a remarkable, beautiful thing, this absence of a colour that I take for granted as part of my landscape in Toronto. It’s a whole other sort of stunning.

As I rode in to town everything looked to be so dry, and sparse…and all the plants looked completely exhausted. I went for a walk in the afternoon and was struck by the complete lack of foot or bike traffic. I was the only soul to be on foot, and after I had walked only a half block or so, I totally got it.

This place is HOT. Too hot to walk. Too hot to breathe really. (I tried.) I understood suddenly, why the plants were exhausted looking. So was I. The only thing about me that was not instantly limp and desperate was my enormous heat inspired hair. In a move that surprised even me, since I usually love the heat, I was driven back inside the air-conditioned hotel in mere minutes and was never more grateful for the cool air that met me in the lobby. I briefly considered falling on the cool tile of the hotel room lobby and asking the concierge to simply pour water over me until I was restored. Hot. Stupid hot. Really hot. This place is much, much closer to the sun. The heat is pure. (This experience is made even more remarkable by the people of Mesa who kept saying how nice it was that I had come when it was “cool”. Cool? (I kept thinking of that line from the Princess Bride “You keep using that word…I don’t think in means what you think it means…”)

The sock saw Cacti…


and there are palm trees…


(That’s for Sandy…a palm tree sky!) but most all of the other plants had wee shriveled leaves and a few limp blooms.

As deflated as the heat left me, the natives were in no way effected. Does my cab driver Vladi look too hot?


(I mean temperature wise, ya bunch of filthy minded knitters. You now what I meant.) Note the sun scorching in behind him. I was hustled (in air-conditioned comfort) to The Fiber Factory, and the minute I arrived I saw huge metre long Navajo spindles lying on a shelf by the back door. (If I could have got one in my suitcase I totally would have. What a cool souvenir of Arizona, eh?) I gathered myself quietly in the back room while the absolutely entertaining owners of the place hustled coffee and microphones and cake around. If you’re ever in the area of Mesa, drop in. The store is spectacularly well appointed (tons of stuff for spinning and knitting and weaving and basket making and millions of books) and the staff is charming, hysterically funny and extraordinarily well organized. Terri and Susan made for a fabulous “back stage” show as they hustled their stuff.

Here’s what the sock saw.


My Arizona peeps, and more than Arizona represented.

Stephanie brought me beautiful things from Arizona (A beautiful batt she made that’s just the colour of Bursage, and magnets made from the photos of desert flowers she took while hiking. (This pleased me more than I can tell you, since my deepest regret about Mesa is that I didn’t have time to go to the desert.) She has a shop here, should you wish for your own desert inspired lovliness. Annette was there, and Jude and Lynn and Pam and Becky and more. Sing out in the comments ladies.

The Arizona Stitch & Bitch turned out in full force…with their socks.


Cerridwen arrived, sock in tow.


Carrie was there (mother of one of the most beautiful children in the world.) and Lyn and Rob wanted to shout out out to Big Lynne, a friend who reads the blog.


Hope came through big time for me, bringing me…


a good beer. A shiner bock beer. Not only did she bring me a beer (which really, is more than I could have ever, ever hoped for) but the woman froze it before she came and then transported it via cooler and ice pack, and presented it to me totally frosty. It was still wicked cold by the time I got back to the hotel, and since I had completely overheated walking the three metres from the car to the hotel door (What is with that? It was 10:00 at night! Shouldn’t it cool off when the big ball of fire in the sky goes away?) I enjoyed it completely when I collapsed in my hotel room minutes later. Drinking good beer is the last thing I remember doing yesterday. Hope rocks.

When I woke up this morning, it was raining. This surprised me, but a little google-fu has revealed that Phoenix has a monsoon season, just like India. It was the most incredible thing to watch…the storm moving across the desert and the hills. You could watch the dark front line of the storm ahead of the rain…the part that is a wall of dust that moves in front of the whole thing. (I think my cab driver said is was called “haboob”)


Beautiful, yes? I wish I could have caught the lightning. The storm moved along, leaving the air steamy and warm and the hills started to come out of the mist again.


I left for the airport and as I stepped outside I couldn’t believe the change. What had been dry and arid the day before was green and lush instantly. Bushes and flowers that had not been blooming 20 hours earlier were sitting in the light rain, covered in blossoms. Everything looked grateful and ripe and the rain sticking to everything leant a depth of colour to all the things around me that the heat of the day before hadn’t allowed. It was incredible. It was like the whole place just woke up in the rain. You should have been there. Go to the desert. Find the knitters.

Thank you Mesa Arizona, and Hello New Mexico!

156 thoughts on “It’s not easy being green

  1. I visited the desert once outside of Phoenix – it was an interesting hike but stay away from the teddy bear cactus, whose spines seem to jump out at you and easily go through sneakers (running shoes, tennis shoes, whatever you would like to call them). However, I have heard tell of the outstanding fiber and dyeing talent out that way and I would go back in a minute!
    Glad someone rescued you with that ice cold beer! – KVL

  2. It was great to see you! The Bug was sorely disappointed that he didn’t get to chew the sock, but the two-hour drive was too much… Glad you got to experience the rain!
    (If you really want to be impressed, come back in January when it’s about 70.)

  3. I love every word you write (she says fawningly), but this description/tribute to the desert was especially beautiful.
    PS I HATE the desert, give me 90% humidity any day. I am Puerto Rican, I can take it.

  4. eek! 0 comments? I’ve never seen that before! And I have no idea what to say! But here I am! So there! Useless comment! With too many exc points! Oh well. My brains were baked at part one of a two-day swim meet with 105-degree heat index, and I know from heat. Knitting? I need the A/C.
    Bless your bones, Steph.

  5. Can’t wait to hear about your trip to NM… going there in October … will try to follow the Harlot trail. Glad you’re having a good time … sorry about the hair and the heat!

  6. as a native westerner (from Utah), what you experienced was true desert heat. since i now live in humid chicago, i have experienced both types. out west, it is a very different kind of heat. a dry, arid, ball of fire, feeling to it. it causes one to never go outside during the afternoon (from about 12 – 6p.m.).
    thanks for the pics of the west. makes me homesick. and thanks for the travelogue – makes me want to knit. think i will!

  7. What a beautiful description of the magic of the desert. So sorry you couldn’t go hiking, but you described wonderful colors for a knitting mix.

  8. Shiner Bock was the first beer that I drank that I actually liked. It opened up whole new worlds for me. πŸ˜‰ Since moving here from Texas, I can only find it occasionally, though. That’s okay – Oregon is ripe with awesome microbrews.

  9. Oh my goodness, another Princess Bride fan. My favorite movie of all time……”Bye, Bye boys…..Have fun storming the castle!”

  10. I am glad that you were given some REAL American beer! Shiner Bock is my fave from my college days in Austin.
    I am looking very forward to your visit to California in September! Enjoy the rest of your trip. πŸ™‚

  11. Welcome to our nightmare. Everywhere in the South, the heat is a palpable presence at this time of year. While your Canadian kids are enjoying oudoor activities this summer, southern mothers are going crazy trying to figure out how to keep their kids occupied indoors without resorting to nonstop goonbox watching. It’s just too hot for them to play outside any time after about 9:00 a.m. Unless you have a swimming pool, of course. And if you do, by this time of year the water is so warm that it’s not even refreshing! You’ve got to hand it to anyone who knits in this kind of weather . . . .

  12. Thank you Stephanie for the comments and pictures you are putting on here. I’m travelling right along with you and enjoying it all from an air conditioned home. Its HOT in Ontario right now too and MUGGY. Where do you find all these handsome cab drivers or do they find you ? haha. Thats a whole raft of happy knitters in that picture . HaPpy happy to meet you and have a few laughs. Safe travels to New Mexico.

  13. My husband was so upset when he heard that you could only get a 3.2 percent Budweiser in Oklahoma! He’s going to be thrilled when I tell him about the Shiner Bock experience.

  14. Believe it or not, it was lovely and cool and it RAINED here this morning. Wish you could have stuck around.
    Thank you for a great evening!

  15. This one hit home! My son recently returned from what I am calling “The Arizona Experiment.” He moved down there to check out being on his own, etc. etc. (as 19-yr-olds who think they have it all figured out are wont to do)…he lasted a whole 68 days! And now he’s back in blessedly (until recently) cool northern California. I loved your description of the heat, and have printed it out for my son’s amusement. LOVE your blog, and your socks, and your books, and am looking forward to your visit in September to northern Cal – finally!!

  16. Stephanie, it was a thrill to meet you and a joy to listen to you speak πŸ™‚
    I do hope you enjoy spinning your batt – and should anyone wonder where to find some of their own, please come visit me at
    and have a little bit of Arizona inspired color of your own πŸ˜€
    If you do make it down here again, via book tour or otherwise, come during our winter. or spring – when our wildflowers are blooming – I’d be happy to take you to the desert and show you the sites πŸ™‚

  17. We were all very glad you braved the heat to come visit us and very happy that the rain dances worked so you could see both sides of the desert.
    We enjoyed having you, we mean it.
    Anybody want a peanut?
    PS Yep, it’s really and truly called a haboob.

  18. I just arrived home from oral surgery. Apparently, the fist thing I was concerned about when I came to was my new kitten Tora & your blog. I love reading about your adventures.
    Now, I’m off to take more pain meds. & dream about what I will eat first when I can have real food in 5 days; sigh.
    Thx. for lifting my spirits. You are my therapy.

  19. Hello! It was great to hear you speak yesterday in Mesa, though I was horribly disappointed I couldn’t stay for the whole event (my friend and I were the pair who left about a half-hour into your talk). Alas, it was the same day as the Paul Simon concert across town which I had tickets to. My friend (who is a grumpy-just-finishing-his-thesis-in-history guy) surprised me by saying that he really enjoyed your talk too and said that he wished he could have heard the rest. We particularly enjoyed the Star Trek Convention story!!! Particularly since we both do role playing and are into such nerdy things. (and I have loom knitted a hat for a friend to wear to such a convention)
    I was likely one of the few people crocheting there. I have a purple doily I’m working on for a swap. I did think about bringing the sock I’m knitting on a little round loom. (alas, I haven’t mastered knitting with needles yet though I started learning a while ago)
    Thanks so much for coming to this part of the world! Though it would be great to have you down in Tucson too!! (where I came from) But come back in the winter when you need some warm weather. It’s waaay to hot nowdays. And I’m so glad you like the desert. It surprised me as well when I moved out here from NW Pennsylvania (not all that far from Toronto). I miss trees though. But I love that spring starts in February!

  20. Oh, my yes! I was in Albuquerque in late May, and as another Ontario girl who thought she knew from heat (the humidex here is 40C/100F), and thought she knew dry (I’ve hiked in Dinosaur Provincial Park in 40C/100F with no humidity and a nice breeze) I had met my match.
    The combination of Heat, Extreme Dryness (what is this crud in my nose? OMG it’s dead SKIN!), and Proximity to Sol kept me in the hotel almost all week. You could go out after dark, but not too late because everything closes at 9 pm on-the-dot.
    But I got cowgirl boots. Not all was lost!

  21. But did you know that Shiner beer is brewed in Shiner, Texas, which is just spittin’ distance from Austin?

  22. I was in Vegas briefly two summers ago in the middle of the night (layover on a flight to Seattle) it was hot, like an oven. I never even went outside, just experienced the little bit between the plane and gangway. I decided the only way Vegas could ever be tolerable is in the middle of winter. Arizona and New Mexico are in the same camp as Nevada to me. Only go in the winter.
    Glad though you saw the monsoon.

  23. “Everything looked grateful and ripe.” Beautiful description, Stephanie. Thanks for taking us with you to the desert.

  24. Now you’ve gone and made me homesick! Three years ago I left Arizona after living there 28 years, back to PA where I was born. The Four Corners states are totally awe-inspiring. And addictive.

  25. Oooooh, beer. Beer good. Beer keep Harlot cool in hot desert.
    Jess very tired, reduced to speaking without pronouns.
    I’ve never been “Out West” (yet), but I hear it’s beautiful. We actually have tee-niney little cactus here in Murfreesboro, TN (southeast of Nashville). They grow in the cedar glades here. They’re very…um…cute, nothing like *real* cacti.
    …and Vladi does look hot (wicked grin).

  26. Your post made me drool and also made me remember when I lived in Phoenix. There is no way to describe that heat. No way. I’ve been to Fiber Factory many times and loved it. But it’s good to be back in PA now but Arizona is a gorgeous state….to visit. I sure wish I could have been there in Mesa though πŸ™ I’ll have to check to see when you’re coming back east again. Don’t suppose you make house calls? Guess not!

  27. Loved your stories about Mesa, especially since my husband and I have been trying to move to Tucson for two years. Alas, we can’t sell our house in Truckee, CA and, as my Beloved tells me, we’re stuck in paradise. Hope you can make it to Truckee for a visit. We have a wonderful little Jimmy Beans Wools in the old train depot. It’s a dangerous place for me. It’s also very small. You’d probably have to meet in the rec hall. The JBW crew are great and the yarns…well…I just can’t talk about it….Anyway, love your blog and books. Can’t wait for the fourth one when it comes out. Love forever, Stephanie

  28. Well, ya it was hot. Our state motto is “Hydrate or die” ^_^
    You need to come farther south, into my desert. The Sonoran Desert is the most beutiful, amazing…mere words don’t describe it. Come to Tucson, go to the Saquaro National Monument. Or Sunset POint. Actualy, you should come and plan to see things with someone who loves it. People from outside, they just don’t understand the subtle beuty of this area. They are used to the showy in-your-face nature that they see other places, and expect that here. But the desert knows how truely amazing it is, and is comfterbol with itself so doesn’t need to do things to grab your attention (ok, someone is going to say something about jumping cactus, but that is different).
    I love my desert (incase you were curious), and want everyone else to love it too. Glad you enjoyed Mesa.

  29. Is your cab driver hot. hahahahahaha.
    My 92 year old grandma still cruises around in Scottsdale, AZ…but only before 8am. I think the place has made her wrinkle more quickly. Kind of like a raisin.

  30. Welcome to the world of dry heat. Mad dogs and english men go out in the mid day sun.The rest of us shift to late nights, early mornings and lurk in the basement from about noon to about sunset. Remember the advice about getting things wet? Get your heat activated hair wet and your shirt as well and the dryness will cool you off. Slather yourself with sunscreen, it is entirely possible to get a blistering sunburn in ten minutes. Fill you water bottle halfway and freeze it and then fill it the rest of the way, and drink lots and lots of water. Soak a towel and hang it around your neck. and thank goodness for air conditioning and hope a whole lot that the power does not go out.
    You will not be any where near Colorado and I am feeling left out and pouty. What did we do to make you snub us?

  31. I never thought of this before: if desert storm = haboob, just think how it would have sounded if (either) Bush had said “we’re going on Operation Haboob.” Then everybody would have laughed, and life would have been so much better. Sigh.

  32. Cab drivers in this town NEVER look that cute. Think Micky Rooney crossed with Anselo (From Keeping up Appearances)
    Did the sock see any scorpions? That is one resident of desert life that I did not appreciate meeting on my one trip through the Arizona desert. I swear he could have carried off a small dog!
    Sorry the heat was so bad. My FIL lives in Scottsdale he says they start their cars to run the AC before they get in them a full 1/2 hr before leaving! 120.F ACK!
    I am loving the daily report and sock travel log.

  33. Hope, the Shiner Bock Angel! What a great gift. I’m glad you enjoyed it Stephanie – they sure do taste good. I have a hankerin’ now for tall cold one…
    The temps have been so high here – 100+ in Northern California – that I haven’t been able to knit. Oh the horror. Sweat, humidity and mohair don’t go together very well at all…

  34. *sigh* Just yesterday I was explaining to my 21-year-old son that, “Yes, Tom Willig (superman on TV) is nice to look at, but he is young enough to be my son so I don’t look at him that way.” Then you show us Vladi.

  35. Your blogs about Chicago, Oklahoma, and now Mesa are some of the best writing you’ve ever done (that I’ve seen). Thanks so much for noticing all these things and sharing them with us so beautifully!

  36. Dude! you were suffering from not only the heat of the area, but the hot after affect of Vladi. {Woo, mama!}
    Enjoy the desert, I found it to be a surreal experience after growing up in Iowa and living in Florida. Drink plenty of fluids!

  37. Speaking of ice cold beer, I made Rachel H laugh so hard last night , I’m pretty sure ice cold beer came right out of her nose. We don’t miss you to bad. Going now to do the work of our people luv dennyx0x0xx0

  38. I’ve spent some time in the desert on a different continent. The desert does have its own beauties. But I can remember getting off the air-conditioned bus in Eilat, Israel – the heat was a wall, a force of nature. You don’t even feel too hot – the heat is sort of an entity, like wind. Perspiration evaporates before you even feel it, and you hardly even have to go the bathroom!

  39. How great that you got to see the desert bloom! I love that landscape (grandparents lived in Phoenix when I was a kid, ex-husband from Alamogordo, NM, so I’ve spent a lot of time there over the years). It doesn’t give up its pleasures too easily, but boy, when it comes through…wow!
    Happy travels! Give my regards to NM.

  40. Operation Haboob. hahahahahahahaha ha ha ha!!!
    oooooo, Vladi, hot!
    Come to Maine! It’d feel almost like home. We’ll give you ice cold home brew!

  41. Kudos for the stellar usage of one of my favourite Princess Bride lines. And for the description of the desert, but you pretty much had me at ‘I do not think it means what you think it means’.

  42. (I kept thinking of that line from the Princess Bride “You keep using that word…I don’t think in means what you think it means…”) That just made me giggle out loud ^_^
    That sock might just get finished by the time you get home!
    I can’t wait for you to come to Eugene in September, I’ve been reading your blog for a while now and am looking forward to seeing you in person.

  43. Don’t you just love the desert?
    Arizona is one of my favorite places! (and not just because of the hot cabbies!)
    But, I gotta tell you that Shiner Bock beer is a Bohemian beer brewed by our Bohemian ancestors right here in Shiner, TEXAS! You’ll be less than 100 miles from the brewery on Saturday! Dang, those old Bohemians brew a great beer! A couple of Longnecks, a party with us Longhorns and you’ll never want to leave!

  44. Mother Nature
    Nature is no gentle mother in the desert.
    Her breath sears,
    her touch scours.
    her children are few and spiteful:
    scorpions and rattlesnakes,
    jackrabbits too tough for stewing,
    and ten thousand things with spines.
    Nature is a harsh mother
    except in the spring.
    Give her one good drink,
    and she becomes a floozy –
    decked in garish flowers,
    flaunting her gaudy charms,
    mating and pollinating all over the place.
    But make it a quickie. Her soft mood won’t last.
    Before you know it, she’ll devour her young.

  45. By the by, when you get to Eugene and you want a different beer experience, try going to McMinnamins and have a beer-milkshake. Sounds odd, but it’s ohhh so yummy! They’ve got a raspberry one and a chocolate one, with their own brewed beers. There’s one very close to your venue, called North Bank McMinnamins, and also one on…19th street I believe.

  46. ha! yes, it IS a haboob. i remember my father getting that question, “what’s a haboob?” correct in trivial pursuit close to ten years ago! πŸ™‚
    beautiful pictures and it looks like you had a great time!

  47. You have to experience driving thru that type of storm — I came down from Flagstaff once while visiting and I swear I drove out of a sheet of that rain where at one point the front of the car was dry and the back half was being poured on with no slowing down in between. It was just a straight line of rain coming down.
    Dang I have to stop renting cars when I am out there if the cab drivers look like that….

  48. I just recently started reading your blog, but I wish I would’ve known you were coming to Phoenix. The Fiber Factory is my LYS, I love it! This is the first summer I’ve spent here in Arizona since coming here for school, and it’s been very hard dealing with the heat. It’s too hot to even go to the pool! No wonder I haven’t been motivated to knit since about May. Happy travels!

  49. It’s too hot for me here in Mississauga, I can’t even imagine what it’s like in Mesa. By the way, that cab driver was HOT–and I’m not speaking of temperature.

  50. Glad you enjoyed the desert. There’s nothing else quite like it. Shiner bock, yum!
    Helloooo Vladi. Hot cabbie holding a sock, hmm, there’s a knitters calendar in this somewhere.

  51. I considered bringing you chocolate, but knew it wouldn’t survive the heat between the shop and the car for transport.
    “Cool” is a relative statement in Arizona. We were about 15 degrees warmer a week ago, so yes, you came when it was “cool.”
    Maybe if you knit up a holocaust cloak for your next visit? πŸ˜€

  52. Oh, if you like green you’re really going to like Seattle! Everything is green here, even throughout the summer. I know what you mean about being surprised about the lack of green: I visited Denver during May. Enough said.

  53. Can’t wait to see you in Austin where the desert runs into the hills and goes splat. Same heat, same beer, special brand of lunacy!

  54. Mmmm, hot looks good on Vladi – thanks for sharing.
    We’re working on engineering some perfect weather for you when you get to A2 on Sunday. So far it has been stormy and humid all week (as a fellow curlygirl I know that this spells doom). But am keeping my toes (not fingers, since they’re busy knitting) crossed for a more typically mild and beautiful Ann Arbor summer day.
    Will see if hot cab drivers can be arranged, though….

  55. You don’t have a problem drinking beer before noon, do you? The beer fairies here in Austin are looking forward to welcoming you on Saturday.

  56. I’ll keep your cabbie. πŸ˜€
    Here in Bakersfield it was 111 F on Tuesday. Only 20% humidity, but still!
    And we here on the west coast don’t really know what the true color green is. everything’s usually dead from the desert heat.

  57. Now I’m sitting here in Oklahoma thinking to myself,”Man, I haven’t seen my friend in Phoenix in a few months..I really should get out there.” Your description of the desert is perfect…it really is a surprising beautiful place. Like everyone else, I’m really enjoying your travelogue!

  58. Gyaaaad– I can’t believe I’m the first person to ask this, but how many days a year do these Mesa knitters have to wear wool socks? Three?
    Maybe they need wool in the arctic a/c….

  59. I hope that you’re not looking for a reprieve from the heat when you get up to Ann Arbor, Michigan this weekend. . . ‘coz you’re not going to get it. It’s been really, really hot, and very humid and sticky. But fortunately, there are no alcohol restrictions. Although you probably can’t bring it into the library. Downtown A2 is good for alcohol.
    I have to say how much I’m looking forward to Sunday at the library. Can’t wait πŸ™‚ I’ve got all three of your books and have debated about bringing all of them to have you sign, but I probably won’t. . . Question for you, what’s the deal with the socks? Do I have to bring a sock project? I kinda hate socks right now.

  60. The Day Star watches you! I have never heard anyone else call the sun the ‘big ball of fire in the sky’ .. I thought only me and my friends (sorry, grammar isn’t best after a long day like I had .. my friends and I) said! You rock!

  61. Lucky you, you saw the desert bloom! I went back to Arizone 4 times before I saw that… what a thrill.
    A bit of home news: I was at Lettuce K tonight cursing about this lace scarf that won’t cooperate, so I bought this even finer yarn to do this even more complicated shawl… and somehow, you popped into my mind! This is what that crazy Steph would do! Oh GAwd. Have I gone mad too?

  62. So much fun to see you last night! I laughed so hard, there were tears in my eyes a couple times. It takes a lot of guts to come visit the Southwest Desert in July. Either that, or you have to be crazy…you did look a little crazy, in a nice way of course, or maybe that was just the hair thing. I’m disappointed, though, that I didn’t get into your picture of the crowd. Just my right arm in the lower right picture! Dang! But it is so nice to find out that bloggers are real people, and really nice people at that, too. Wish I could have stayed longer, but I had a three hour drive to get home. And if you would like to see pictures of a really big haboob (does that sound wrong to you, too?), check out my blog on the June 7, ’06 entry. Thank you so much for being crazy enough to come to the desert in July, it was really fun! (Next time, come in February.)

  63. I never ever post twice — but do you know what MOVIE is on tonight — I’m watching “The Princess Bride” Talk about a coincidence….

  64. Thank you so much for coming out to meet us, Stephanie! I had so much fun!
    Too funny that you came out on the “coldest” day of the summer. Thanks for bringing in the rain! Isn’t the desert amazing? I just wish you had been here long enough to do more sight seeing.
    Want to come back in January? There won’t be any snow… πŸ™‚

  65. Thanks for coming to New Mexico! My koigu sock and I got a huge kick out of meeting you.
    And have a GREAT time in Austin- used to live there and it is incredibly hip, crafty friendly, and home of very good beer.

  66. Do you have more pictures of Vladi, by any chance? I was unable to gauge his hotness by just one picture.
    I have friends in New Mexico that talk about the desert, and I’m constantly reminded how much I take green for granted. You’re a brave, brave woman to go out in the desert in the summertime like this.

  67. Your description of Arizona sounds like Melbourne (or anywhere in the SE of Oz), in summer (though we don’t get quite so hot). The northerly winds blast out of Central Australia and feel like a furnace wind. I’ve walked through sprinklers in my corporate outfit and been perfectly dry 5 minutes later when I walked back into work. The colour sound very Australian too.
    Thanks for sharing your experience!

  68. I have ultra-mega heat hair, and I’ve been known to vacation in Florida in the summer. Here’s what I do:
    1. Wash hair. Slather with conditioner. Slather with the stiffest gel available. Immediately tie back in pony tail. Hair stays in manageable shell all day.
    2: Wash hair. Slather with conditioner. Slather with the stiffest gel available. Allow to hang loose, without touching, until dry. Hair stays in cute ringlets until I break a sweat or walk through a sprinkler, at which time it turns into a Brillo pad.
    3: Wash hair. Slather with conditioner. Skip gel. Hair turns into fuzzy nimbus that looks either frightening or angelic, depending on your outlook. I had fun with this the other day, putting the whole cotton-candy cloud into a Pebbles Flintstone pony tail on the top of my head. I looked like a happy clown.
    I had the same experience with Arizona. It can be 110*, and the folks will tell you how lucky you are to be there when it’s “unseasonably cool.”
    Star Trek?! Are you fannish? Come to World Con, Anaheim, California, last weekend of August. It’s across the street from Disneyland.

  69. Shiner rocks. Be sure to have lots when you get to Austin!
    I grew up in Syracuse, NY, lived in Austin, TX for a decade, and now I live in northern California. Yep, I too am amazed at how being closer to the equator makes the light so intense and, as you put it, pure.
    I’m really enjoying these posts, seeing the U.S. fresh through your amazed and appreciative eyes.

  70. Your cab driver looks VERY HOT!! πŸ˜‰ And he holds socks.. Hmm, serious lust going on over here..

  71. I grew up in Phoenix, and you’ve pinpointed exactly what it is I love about the desert so much. Here is the best thing about growing up in the desert: central air conditioning! I live in California now, and part of why this heat wave is soooo unbearable is the lack of air conditioning in so many houses and apartments. I had no idea such a thing even existed until my first summer out here πŸ™‚
    In any case, I’ve just recently become a regular reader of your blog, and wanted to thank you for your highly entertaining posts. I love reading about your adventures, fiber and otherwise!

  72. Aw, come on…at least it’s a “dry” heat, right? As a native Tucsonan, that always cracks me up – remembering my poor boyfriend from Mississippi who couldn’t wear his contact lenses all one summer because they would dry up on his eyes!
    Take Cerridwen’s advice and make it to the Sonoran desert sometime. I still get cravings for those skies…

  73. Hi Stephanie. I am so glad you enjoyed the beer. πŸ™‚ I was such a great pleasure to get to meet you in person after reading your books and blog. I really hope you enjoy Austin, as that is where my heart truely lies. Looking forward to reading more about all your travel experiences.

  74. I’m so glad you got to see the post rain desert or at least some of the magic that it has. I lived in AZ for 15 years and never tired of that particular miracle. Looking forward to seeing you in CA in Sept. Blessings on your journey!

  75. Arizona always freaks me out because the desert seems like another planet compared to the green watery place I live. Way too hot for me in the spring/summer/fall for me, but it’s a great place to run to in the winter. There are also days that I wouldn’t mind just raking rocks into artistic piles in my front yard rather than mowing the lawn. Here is the weirdest thing about Arizona (to me anyway) and why I could never live there. We were visiting one winter and I went to the spa to get my nails done. The manicurist was originally from North Dakota. She was telling me the only thing she didn’t like about living there is putting the baby crib in a plastic tub. She said that you buy giant plastic tubs to put cribs in so that scorpions can’t get into the crib and bite your baby. Apparently scorpion poison usually won’t kill a full size adult, but will kill a baby or your household pets. I don’t know if this is a scary story they tell tourists to see if they buy it or not, but it worked on me. I like my urban wildlife in the form of squirrels and pigeons not scorpions, tarantulas, or various reptiles.

  76. That was one beautiful travelogue. I’ve been to Arizona once when I wasn’t noticing much (oral Boards). I loved seeing it through your eyes and words.

  77. I have a college friend who grew up in Pittsburgh (east, wet, green, etc.) and now lives in Tucson and has been totally bitten by this desert bug. So although I can’t imagine it, there has to be something to it as you said the same thing.

  78. You are so lucky to be seeing parts of our country that I have always dreamed to see. Someday……
    And who knew cab drivers in Arizona would be SO HOT!

  79. No two ways about it — definitely a hot cabbie. Whether or not he was uncomfortable is another subject that we can’t explore here.
    Counting the days until Ann Arbor, MI.
    See you there. Keep safe — and I say that for purely selfish reasons!! πŸ˜‰

  80. I too am very much a green person. When I traveled to Arizona (Scottsdale) for work I was shocked by all of the sand. All I could think was…”What about all the dust! Where is the grass!”

  81. I was in Scottsdale in June and it was fargin’ hot there – like 113F – which I think is 40somethingC. Anyway – you’re right – it just hurts to BREATHE.
    Did you get the cabbie’s number by any chance?

  82. I just wanted to chime in and let you know I will be at the MI event in spirit. I was so elated to see you were coming then so ticked when I found out that I have to be 3 hours away at exactly the same time. I hope you have as good of a time in one of my favorite cities as you have been. And remember there is an other soul in the back of that room, cheering you on in spirit! Have a great trip.

  83. I’m sorry that I missed your visit. The Fiber Factory is one of my favorite places. It’s around the corner and down the street from my house, but I don’t get there nearly often enough.
    Thank you so much for the amazing description of my little part of hell – I mean – well you know what I mean?
    This desert that I love to hate. The heat, the dust, the heat – I wilt just thinking about the dang heat. It hits like a wall, a malignant force waiting for you to make one false move.
    6 months of the year (from May to October)find me scheming to move to Portland or Seattle or anywhere wet and cooler. Then the rains come, or a beautiful December day when I can sit outside and knit or spin.
    I exist from my a/c car to my a/c office back to my a/c house and burn incense to ensure that the power never goes out. I spend the summer in the pool and don’t get any knitting done.
    I stay here because my family is here and I have not been able to talk them into a migration. 3 sisters, a son, 7 nephews and nieces, and 3 grandsons – hard to get them all pointed in the same direction. I’ve tried to move before.
    I spin wool almost exclusively and the yarn piles up because I have no one to knit anything wool for. Hand spun hand knit self striping wool socks sit in drawers waiting for that winter weekend trip to go somewhere else cold.

  84. hehe…..
    We joke that you know it’s Christmas in South Texas when every one starts putting ornaments on their agave. We have maybe 2 weeks of 40 to 50 degree (F) weather.
    25 hours and 10 minutes till Austin! See you there!

  85. Stephanie, your writing truly makes my day! Your descriptions of the desert make me want to leave my beautiful coastal Maine village and check it out!

  86. Yeah, the desert has its’ breathtakingly magical moments, glad you got to see a bit of that. I love that sage green, a good gray green, yep. Vladi? Hot? well,,,,,,does that really need answering? Roxie, the Mother Nature bit was beautiful and true. Steph,
    you are amazing, this particular junket in the heat, you are quite the trooper.
    38 days (they’re zipping right along, eh?)

  87. you sure tell a great story, Steph. You make even this heat-intollerant fiber girl want to hop on a plane to Arizona.
    even tho’I don’t comment all the time (no sense just repeating what all the others say) I do continue to read and enjoy. So I suppose the middle of a book tour isn’t the right time to ask you when your next book is coming out?

  88. Just thought you might be interested to hear what’s going on back home in Toronto while you’re reporting on how hot Vladi is:
    Prince’s wife is filing for divorce. Looks like he’s gonna be available. I know it’s not like you’re a fan or anything, but still. It’s kind of interesting, eh?

  89. Just realized recently that you were in Pittsburgh in April, so I searched your writings ’til I found your description of your visit here. Sounds like you were not too impressed with our lovely city. Hope you can come back sometime and have a much better experience. It’s really a great place to live and Knit One rocks!

  90. Loved your description of Arizona. My daughter lives out there – Phoenix area – and I felt the same way when we went to visit her. Every place seems to have their own special beauty. Love your blog and your books…

  91. NOTE TO SELF: take taxi, not rental car, next time in Phoenix. Sheesh. And he likes socks. I admire your fortitude, Steph, and this should be pointed out to Joe. I would have, like, totally forgotten where I needed to go.
    When I get a taxi, why do I always end up with little round guys who just immigrated here last week? Wahhhhhh…..
    This will not in any way encourage you to come to Louisiana (at least not before November), but having been in Arizona in the summer on a few occasions, I can say that I was actually more comfortable there, than here. Good beer helps –glad you got some Shiner Bock.
    Unfortunately, I did not get to see the desert bloom on any of my visits.
    I am astounded that you got out of that cab. That just speaks volumes for your character.

  92. Thanks for visiting Phoenix in the middle of the summer. Hope you come back for your next book tour!
    Princess Bride is one of my favorite chick flick movies! Thanks for quoting it. Think I’ll have to knit and watch it this weekend. πŸ™‚

  93. I’ve been thinking about our southern heat and ‘seemingly’ lack of air and remembered…that Stephen King story about the cat who sucks the breath out of you…well, there’s this really REALLY HUGE cat (apparently Sol’s kitty) that hangs out over our fair southern states just SUCKING.THE.AIR.
    still 38 days.

  94. Arizona can be beautiful – November through April – you would love a ride through the Suguaro National “Forest.” It is savage and beautiful. But in high summer – nope – then it is just….. well, you know what it is. Next book tour, tell the wonder-publicist to schedule Arizona in the middle of a cold Toronto winter!

  95. Arizona has some beautiful storms, purple clouds and blue lightning slashing and thrashing through a hot pink sky and unleashing flood levels of rain with little warning. Deadly gorgeous. My favorite parts of the state are Bisbee in the south and the Sedona, and north rim Grand Canyon areas.

  96. Ah… you got to experience the smell of the wet desert… creosote bush, manzanita, mesquite…
    I lived in Tempe for five years, and if there’s one thing I really miss, it’s the smell of the desert after a monsoon rain. There’s nothing else like it.

  97. As a Westerner, I must also give some advice on adjusting to “dry heat”. You will hear how much cooler it is because there is little to no humidity and there may be some truth to this, but.. meanwhile your skin is dessicating as you speak. The water advice is very good.
    I would also advise that you switch from moisturizing “lotion” to moisturizing “creme”. Avoid using soap – use a moisturising body wash instead. (and I have found that I have to apply moisturizer to many more body parts..)
    This advice comes from someone who moved from a coastal western town with 50% humidity to a high desert town with 15% humidity.
    Enjoy your tour!

  98. So sorry to have missed your visit. Couldn’t handle the heat myself being from Prescott Valley, AZ. Glad you weren’t there the Friday before when it was the record-breaking 118 degrees F. Love the Fiber Factory in Mesa – it’s a great place with friendly staff.

  99. I’m so glad you got to see one of the desert storms, and the green aftermath. I’m from Apache Junction, just outside of Mesa, and the storms are what I miss the most.

  100. Wow…your description of the desert was so lovely, I might actually forget my pathological fear of the heat and go there…someday in the future when they develop a traveling cold suit… But I loved reading about it!!!

  101. I’ve never been to the desert, I guess I wouldn’t mind going, you make it sound nice enough, but the real seling point is that it looks like they have really attractive cab drivers there.

  102. They defend the AZ heat by saying, “ah, but it’s a dry heat”. Yes, and when I was there getting my picture taken next to some funky giant cactus in that dry heat, small mammals were bursting into flames around us. I’ll take my heat with a little bit of steam in it. See you soon, Stephanie.

  103. Oh yes, you can have Shiner to your heart’s content in Austin – quite popular with us at the Central Houston Stitch ‘n’ Bitch…from which six members will be in the crowd tomorrow – five in the same car!
    It occurs to me that I should bring some St. Arnold’s, so that you can appreciate good Houston beer as well…and decide to come visit H-town for All Good Food, All The Time. Oh, and knitters…and many more yarn shops than you’ll find in Austin… *whistles innocently*
    Get ready for a gigantic Texas welcome – we can’t wait to see you!

  104. You post a picture of a hot cab driver holding woolly goodness and then admonish us to not be filthy-minded knitters? A bit of the pot calling the kettle black, hmmm? πŸ™‚ I also enjoy seeing the places you go when on tour. Safe travels!

  105. Was it Shiner Amber? If not, demand some when you get to Austin.
    I have been thinking of visiting Mesa. What cab company did you say you used???

  106. Steph, darling, you were in the desert. It just looked like a city.
    I guess given your description of the heat, you now understand why people from Phoenix visit cooler places during the summer. Where I live in Colorado, we occasionally get temps as high as 100, but that would be a cool day in Phoenix. It is positively oppressive, no matter how dry it is.
    And by the way, your picture of the storm is actually something called virga. That’s rain that never hits the ground. Now I’m sure you did get some rain given your description, but your photo is virga. We get that a lot in the western US when it’s so dry that the rain evaporates before hitting the ground.

  107. Steph, darling, you were in the desert. It just looked like a city.
    I guess given your description of the heat, you now understand why people from Phoenix visit cooler places during the summer. Where I live in Colorado, we occasionally get temps as high as 100, but that would be a cool day in Phoenix. It is positively oppressive, no matter how dry it is.
    And by the way, your picture of the storm is actually something called virga. That’s rain that never hits the ground. Now I’m sure you did get some rain given your description, but your photo is virga. We get that a lot in the western US when it’s so dry that the rain evaporates before hitting the ground.

  108. Steph, darling, you were in the desert. It just looked like a city.
    I guess given your description of the heat, you now understand why people from Phoenix visit cooler places during the summer. Where I live in Colorado, we occasionally get temps as high as 100, but that would be a cool day in Phoenix. It is positively oppressive, no matter how dry it is.
    And by the way, your picture of the storm is actually something called virga. That’s rain that never hits the ground. Now I’m sure you did get some rain given your description, but your photo is virga. We get that a lot in the western US when it’s so dry that the rain evaporates before hitting the ground.

  109. Steph, darling, you were in the desert. It just looked like a city.
    I guess given your description of the heat, you now understand why people from Phoenix visit cooler places during the summer. Where I live in Colorado, we occasionally get temps as high as 100, but that would be a cool day in Phoenix. It is positively oppressive, no matter how dry it is.
    And by the way, your picture of the storm is actually something called virga. That’s rain that never hits the ground. Now I’m sure you did get some rain given your description, but your photo is virga. We get that a lot in the western US when it’s so dry that the rain evaporates before hitting the ground.

  110. Steph, darling, you were in the desert. It just looked like a city.
    I guess given your description of the heat, you now understand why people from Phoenix visit cooler places during the summer. Where I live in Colorado, we occasionally get temps as high as 100, but that would be a cool day in Phoenix. It is positively oppressive, no matter how dry it is.
    And by the way, your picture of the storm is actually something called virga. That’s rain that never hits the ground. Now I’m sure you did get some rain given your description, but your photo is virga. We get that a lot in the western US when it’s so dry that the rain evaporates before hitting the ground.

  111. Well, I ‘spose they call it PHOENIX for a reason. They also call Seattle the “Emerald City” for a reason.

  112. I rememeber clearly now why/how much I hated living in Mesa and Tempe. I also remember the 2 or 3 things I didn’t hate — that storm and the transformation was it! What a nice thing you got to see.
    And me? My first experience with the Arizona heat had me vomiting in my spouse’s boss’s front yard. Drinking a beer on a book tour is a much more civilized reaction.

  113. Yes, it’s cool(er) weater, because it means that it’s only 95 F/35 C for the high, and not 120 F/49 C. The watermelons start to explode when it gets that hot (I am not making this up).
    Have a good time in Albuquerque, which is 5000 feet up and so cooler than Phoenix. It’s getting its share of the monsoon weather too right now. I sure miss watching those thunderstorms roll across the valley in ABQ. Rain here in Portland, OR, is more regular but much less spectacular.

  114. Hey dude – now I have the Smarties jingle stuck in my head eh? Thanks for the laughs!

  115. *sigh* I miss the monsoons.
    I grew up in Arizona and I do not miss that heat. However, I do think I developed like a desert plant and that is why I get completely energized everytime it rains. Which makes it interesting since I live in Oregon now!

  116. It is too bad you’re not going to be in Texas longer; we could have taken you to Shiner, TX to visit the Shiner brewery and get cold, fresh Shiner! (Yes, we are a little proud of our beer.)
    Wow. Less than 8 hours from now, I’ll actually see you in person. Not to freak you out or anything, but that is so cool. We are all psyched!

  117. Thank you for some Arizona sky! I remember being quite awed by palm trees and their graceful beauty when I visited my sister and brother in law in Florida long ago. To which my BIL stated, “I’ll trade all the palms for one Pine tree”.
    Makes sense, doesn’t it?
    THe storm looks beautiful from far away! Which is how I like storms. πŸ™‚
    Stay healthy during your travels.

  118. Ahh, yes, Phoenix/Mesa area – my siblings lived in Phoenix proper for 10 yrs, and so I got out there at least three times. At some times of the year, it DOES get cooler when the Big Ball of Fire goes away, so much so that you want your Socks/Jeans/Long sleeved what-have-you, and even put your heat on in your car!! As hot as that desert gets during the day, it can quickly get THAT cold at night. I’m so thrilled you got to see part of that beautiful state!!! Too bad you couldn’t have gone to Tempe – I’m sure there are some funky knitters there, it’s a neat college town. Oh, and Tucson – and Tombstone!! And Sedona!! Ahhh….you’ll just have to go back on vacay, is all. πŸ™‚

  119. You wanna see green?
    You just wait… once you hit Portland, Oregon… and perhaps if I can get you away from your hotel room… I can take you for a drive up the Gorge… and the next thing you will know… is you’ll be heading home to pack everyone up… and move down here.
    Only.. dont let my front yard be a testament to the shades of green we have here. :o)

  120. Yes! It’s true, you did come when it was *cool*. hahaha It was only 97 the day you were here, the week before was 118 with no clouds to hide any part of the Great Ball of Fire. My first summer it hit 122 and I think I started to cry when I had to go outside. But I’m not sure since no tears ran down my face. Could have been that so-called dry heat dried up the tears as the sprang from my eyes?? Anyone who hasn’t been here, this is how you can experience it yourself: turn oven on to 350; once it warms up, stick your face near open oven door. However, the smell of the creosote after a summer rain IS my favorite smell on Earth. And there is absolutely nothing to compare with the experience of the summer storms. Just beautiful! Next time you need to come out between November and April. Then you will fully understand why it’s so crowded here in the winter … the *snow birds* flock here for very good reason πŸ™‚
    Glad you came out and it was very exciting to see you. My coworkers think I’m crazy talking about the Harlot, but I proudly pulled up your blog and showed them my photos!!

  121. Dear Stephanie,
    I was so disappointed about not being able to come with Lianne and Laura Huff to Austin this weekend. I am “Absent Peggy”. I am a nurse practitioner and mother of 2. My daughter is 10 and my son is 12. I started knitting with “a group” of women two years ago and that is where I met L & L. I absolutely have become addicted to knitting….it is a big stress reliever after getting off work (I work in a large trauma ER….blood/life & death) and I find it so therapeutic to pick up my needles at the end of the day. Thank you in advance for signing my book that you wrote!!!!! I enjoy your work tremendously. I tried with no success to explain to my husband about your blog spot…but he just shrugs and says I have enough da*& yarn to open a store (haha). Maybe I can catch you when you are promoting your upcoming 4th book. Take care and keep on writing and knitting (not necessarily in that order).
    Your Fan

  122. Brown recluse spider. Can cause really bad allergic reactions in people, plus dead flesh surrounding the bite, and big time pain. A friend has had both a BR Spider bite and two childbirth episodes sans epidural, and she said she’d pick childbirth any time. Two shoe whacks were definitely in order.
    At least you avoided scorpions and fire ants. I do hope you were staying some place funky on South Congress so that you could attribute the invasive nature to the “Keep Austin Weird” concept.
    My non-knitting friends who accompanied me to your visit today were amazed by how many had drunk so many gallons of the Kool-Aid. Nevertheless, the REALLY loved touching all the yarn at Hill Country Weavers. I think they are on the slippery slope of knitting.
    Thanks for coming, and you are welcome back any time.

  123. It was great getting to “meet” you in person! I missed you in Berkley last year as I had literally moved back to Phoenix the week before your visit. Thank you so much for coming out to Mesa! And I’m glad you got to enjoy a monsoon storm while you were here. The storms are my favorite part about the desert (well, the only thing really – ha,ha!).
    Thanks for a great night!

  124. your descriptions are absolutely wonderful! i vacationed in Phoenix a few years ago, and I know exactly how you felt. wilted, over-heated and ornery! πŸ™‚ but sounds like you’re having an amazing time.

  125. That bit about the desert coming to life after the rain….that’s a really neat episode of “The Magic School Bus”. But then again, all the episodes are pretty neat, even if you’re not 5.
    And watching the rain front pass by…you can do that if you come up here to Orangeville sometime! We used to watch it out the window of our old house until they built up all around it. But along Highway 9, or going up Highway 10, it’s really cool to watch. Just watch out for the tornados!

  126. After seeing Vladi the cabbie holding the sock, I came up with this thought: how about a hunk a month knitting calendar!!!!? We can get hunky guys to hold knitted items to validate that knitting is sexy. And calendar profits can go to a not-for-profit such as one that serves breastfeeding moms or the Dulaan Project or some other worthy cause. I already checked it out and you can easily create and sell it through We could even set up a website to post the photos and let people vote for their favorites. Anyone who wants to take this idea and run with it?

  127. My daughter and I really enjoyed seeing you in Mesa. I can safely report that the whole experience has turned my daughter in a mohair monster. I so much as look in the general direction of the fiber I bought there and I get growled at! As for the heat and the desert, you couldn’t be more right. It is almost beyond words. Enjoy the rest of your tour and good luck.

  128. I CAN’T believe that you finally made it to Arizona, and I’ve just moved away. *sigh* Please tell me that you’re coming to the DC/VA area again soon. PLEASE! πŸ™‚

  129. Steph.. darn it.. we didn’t get in to Phoenix until 11pm on thursday nite.. but i’m so glad you had a great time.. and now i’ve got faces to put with the new people that i plan on meeting!!! i’m at home in Queen Creek, az.. and hope you get to come back in january.. as one of the girls mentioned.. it is so nice and warm then πŸ™‚ certainly a break from the snow.. and misery of up north.. hee..hee.. hugs missing you karola

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