Well folks, a bit of an update on my recent peregrinations…

I have found a house to rent in Tucson, a feat I recognize absolutely as the work of the Holy Spirit as, to a person, every one to whom I’ve spoken here has described the “seller’s market” real estate situation as “insane,” “exploding,” “we’ve never seen anything like this in 50 years.”

Somehow, I managed to find a ’30s walled adobe with hardwood floors, a garage, washer-dryer, built-in bookcases, French doors, and a garden front and back in one of the city’s most charming historic neighborhoods, Sam Hughes. “You don’t need to drive anywhere if you live in this historic midtown neighborhood” reads one article, which is perfect as during the past few weeks, I have become even more of a daily wanderer than usual.

So far I have found a dentist, someone to cut my hair, and a nail joint. I have a library card. I have scoped out the Trader Joe’s situation, the best place to buy bread, the Little Free Libraries, the Tucson Museum of Art for greeting cards.

Devastating discovery: Tucson does not have 99 Cents Only Stores, which have been a mainstay of my marketing life for many years. Cleaning supplies, toiletries, produce, oat milk, coconut water, flax seed…Aspirin, cough drops, hydrogen peroxide, Sour Patch Watermelon…I’m sure I have saved hundreds if not thousands of dollars at the 99.

Well, Tucson does not have 99 Cents Only Stores. They have Dollar Trees, which are a sad, poor facsimile. First of all, most of the stuff is more like three or four or five dollars, not 99 cents, and some of it is MORE expensive than if you just went to Target or Walgreen’s like a normal person. So–this is one of the many ways I am “letting go.”

Everyone has been incredibly helpful and friendly. One day I ventured up to the downtown Tucson Post Office to rent a box (never dreaming I would find a place with an actual address and its own mailbox before the end of the month). In LA, I bring a bottle of water, snacks, and a book to the PO. It’s nothing to have to wait in line 20 minutes just to mail a package, and that’s at a small branch office.

So I figured whoa, the main downtown Tucson PO–it must be crammed! Especially during what is essentially still COVID! So I geared up, paced myself, girded my loins, ventured forth with full supplies–and there were two other people inside. And two helpful, efficient clerks.

The whole city is like that. 7, 8, 9 in the morning–rush hour in other words–not a car in sight as I cross a major north-south avenue half a mile south of downtown. St. Augustine Cathedral has a 7 am and a noon Mass which if I book it, I can make on foot from my airbnb in 15 minutes.

Rows of palo verde trees, in full, glorious bloom, line the sidewalks.

The prickly pear and cholla cacti are also in bloom, many shades of deep red, magenta, cantaloupe. Also mallow: apricot, deep pink, seashell pink.

Yesterday I went online to set a shut-off date for SoCal Gas, and almost cried: a utility I’ve been paying monthly (and so reasonable!) for over 30 years. I thought of all the dinners cooked, tea kettles boiled, ancient gas heater pilot lights lit (every single place I’ve lived has had an ancient gas heater). My new people are called Southwest Gas and in signing up I learned they wanted an $80 deposit and that you can ask your old utility people for a Letter of Credit to have the deposit waived! How cool is that?

I’ll go back to Pasadena near the end of the month, pack up the rest of my stuff, give some things away, and then it will be moving day, which my friends are basically doing for/with me. I am not driving a UHaul, of any size, trust me.

Beneath the surface: excitement, sadness, fear. So many people I love, in so many different places–and so little time we have in our short habitation, even under the best of circumstances, on this earth!

So much gratitude. Every day I receive a note of encouragement–someone has discovered my work and IDENTIFIES COMPLETELY (my favorite). Someone wants to be in my next Writing Workshop. Someone has pored over a Psalm or a Gospel passage, written a killer reflection, and sent it out to 15 or 20 of their friends, among whom I’m honored to be counted.

Someone sends along a YouTube of a guy who lives in a cave and prays for the world. Someone (actually lately a whole bunch of people) has been diagnosed with cancer, and is asking for prayers. Someone vaguely remembers some saint I may or may not have written about who may or may not have been a drug addict, or French, or a convert: can I help?

Yesterday I went up to my PO box and found a letter from a priest in St. Paul, MN, enclosing a prayer card of a couple of whom I write in this month’s Magnificat. Cyprien and Daphrose Rugamba, a husband and wife active in a Catholic association called the Emmanuel Community, were assassinated in their home, along with six of their ten children, during the Rwandan genocide.

Brother against brother, neighbor against neighbor, betrayal by the people closest to us: it’s the oldest story in the book, and it crosses all lines of era, geography, gender and race. Cyprien had repeatedly strayed from the marriage but Daphrose had held steady, as we women at our best tend to do. And Cyprien, as men at their best tend to do, had straightened up and flown right. The two had supported the arts and native craftspeople. They had tried to spread light, hope and love to the community and to their children.

That was the second letter I’ve received at my new address. The first was an envelope from a friend with tiny medallions of St. Joseph, St. Thérèse of Lisieux, and St. Peregrine, patron saint of cancer. The saints with whose blood the Church continues to be watered. Lord, I am not worthy, and may I keep them close.

The Bishop even welcomed me to town the other day!

Which is a long-winded way of saying: All is well. As always, I’m in the best possible hands.


26 Replies to “DESERT SOLITAIRE”

  1. barbaraschmidtrunkel says: Reply

    I’m really happy for you! But I wouldn’t praise Tucson too highly: otherwise the streets and stores will get a lot fuller! 😁

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Ha, Barbara, well it’s about 150 degrees every day for four months apparently so that’s a tiny bit of the down side…What’s funny is that even with everything “exploding” it’s still sleepy by LA standards…which is fine with me!

  2. Vicki Shuck says: Reply

    My first thought–hey! You’re living my dream!! (Tucson, adobe bungalow, etc).And then, Wow, a fellow sister in AA, and look how God is working in her life! Thank you for this!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thanks, Vicki, will be nice to get my stuff here and settled…I appreciate the support!

  3. Michael Demers says: Reply

    For what it’s worth, we have 99 Cents Only Stores up here in Phoenix. Lol!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Oh Michael, don’t tell me that! I’ll be making a weekly drive to save ten bucks…seriously, though, good to know. I’ll make a run whenever I’m up there. Or maybe the 99 will come to Tucson!

  4. Lisa Porter says: Reply

    I’m so happy to hear that everything is going well!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thank you, Lisa P! More will be revealed..

  5. John Finch says: Reply

    Be sure to check out the Dominicans at The Saint Thomas More Catholic Newman Center on the campus at UA. The Tucson tram drops you right outside.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Went to the 5:15 there Sunday, John! I hope to capitalize on the Magnificat connection…maybe score a dispensation of some kind…:)…hope all is well in your world and with your writing…

  6. But Tucson is soooo worth it… I lived there for over 20 years. Don’t miss the heat that turns your skin powder dry, but there’s a lot of depth in that town.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      That’s what I sense, Patti…I am easing in and have only barely begun my “exploration”…so glad you loved it here, and I’ll be looking for the depth, too…

  7. Mary Hilliard says: Reply

    I am so happy for you! Your adobe bungalow, convenient and historic neighborhood, and finding medical and personal care people so quickly, must all be good signs pointing to a productive, yet contemplative, life in Tucson.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Definitely, Mary–the finding of the house simply seems miraculous to me. I wouldn’t have even thought to look in that neighborhood, assuming it was “beyond” me…once I’m settled, I feel like I want to rest for about a year…thanks so much for the support.

  8. franciscanseculars says: Reply

    Hi Heather,
    I think you have been searching for this for a long time now. A adobe bungalow close to the church and all the things you need. Sounds like you will have plenty of privacy and a beautiful atmosphere.
    Tucson is a far cry from the hustle and bustle of CA. I think it will fit your spirit like a hand in a glove.
    In your new place may Jesus fill you with joy.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Dear Jeanne! Yes, just as you have to your spot across from the church, I will bring the contemplative spirit of the Franciscan Appalachian Hermitage to my new adobe abode…you know better than perhaps anybody how long I have been searching! One day at a time…come and see…I join my prayers to yours, as always, and hope you and your sisters are well–

  9. You are so kind to share your heart and thoughts. We need you.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Not half as much as I need you all, Ingrid–but doesn’t that work out nicely!?

  10. Tom Duffy says: Reply

    good news
    michael and i are ready to lift some boxes if you need

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Oh Tom, you are the best. We’ll be loading the truck the afternoon of Monday May 3 but I’ll be around all the weekend before if you want to drop by and say hi, take a plant or two, bring down a box, though the latter is totally optional! Thank you so much! Your piece should be out Friday, though they sometimes mix things up–will send along link as soon as I see it–xxx Best to Michael!

  11. Carol Clark says: Reply

    I have enjoyed your writing for quite some time now, but only recently found your post. You speak to my heart. Thank you so much for your musings and postings and your wisdom. God’s blessings to you and your new adventure.

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thank you, Carol, and I’m so glad you happened upon my posts and deeply appreciate the solidarity–there’s tons of stuff here on the website as you can see. Happy exploring! More adventures to come.

  12. Such an encouraging and hopeful spirit you continue to express so joyfully, Heather. Your words sing such simple praises of gladness…yet one sees and listens deeply to your determined intentions. There is this natural sanctity always present and it is so lovely to behold. It’s like the sweetest of songbirds, projecting Gods unconditional love across the universe, calling us all every day to make way for the day of the Lord! How it colours our own hearts, minds and souls with gratitude and thanksgiving. My dear Heather, may this new chapter in your life journey bring you abundant blessings and richly creative opportunities. I’m so glad you have found a home in the desert. Dominus sit semper vobiscum!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      And with your spirit, Philippe! You’re so unfailingly kind and I fear way too generous in your estimation of me–however, I will take it, and with thanks and joy. I hope all is well over in Paris, where I am gratified to know you keep your own flame burning–I am starting to believe this move may actually take place. Am staying very close to people, the tabernacle, my books and the flowering cacti…I look forward to being able to contemplate and write at slightly greater leisure, but still a lot of work to do until…many thanks for your generosity and support…

  13. Laura Knutsen says: Reply

    God bless you Heather and thank you for sharing your journey. It strengthens me so to read your words. May the transition ahead for you be filled with much peace and joy!

    1. HEATHER KING says: Reply

      Thank you so much, Laura–peace and joy to you as well!


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