I miss the mall.  So much.  Not our current mall, limping along with its few stores, just hanging on by a thread and devastated by yet another blow, aka global pandemic.  No, I miss the mall from back in the day.

I miss the mall packed with people, no stores boarded up, where if you lucked into a good parking spot, it just made the whole trip even better!

I miss the food court.

I miss Orange Julius.

I miss Boardwalk Fries at Towson Town Center, with malt vinegar.

I miss going to Auntie Anne’s for a pretzel, and wondering if I will get it with cheese dipping sauce again, or if I will ever branch out and try something else.  Spoiler: I never branch out.  It’s always the cheese sauce!

I miss smelling Chick-Fil-A all over the mall and wondering if it’s lunchtime yet.

Speaking of Chick Fil-A, I miss getting up at 4:30 on Black Friday to go with my sister-in-law, Carole, for the Doorbusters, with our coupons we’ve cut from the Thanksgiving newspaper, armed with a long list and fueled on Chick-Fil-A breakfast Chick-n-Minis and a Chick-Fil-A Arnold Palmer: tea with lemonade.

I miss seeing the mall go all-out on decorations for every possible season, especially Christmas.  I miss the mall Santa and his North Pole scene.  I even miss the cheesy bubble-gum Christmas music that starts playing the day after Halloween.  Yes, I’ve got mall nostalgia.  I’ve got it bad.

I miss going to Ann Taylor and Brooks Brothers, not being able to afford anything, then going to the Ann Taylor and Brooks Brothers outlets and buying some crap that looks like what they are selling for many more dollars but is actually not the same quality at all, and regretting it.

I miss Pier One.

I miss looking at formal dresses for prom with my daughter, Blair, at the Jessica McClintock store at Tyson’s Corner in Virginia.

I miss B. Dalton and Walden’s, back in the 1980s, when they actually had depth of selection and before they started selling the same five books.  Even then, I supported them!

I miss Barnes & Noble.  I miss it so much.  I miss how it smelled, with the coffee shop in there.  I miss going into the children’s book section, ostensibly to look for books with my kids, but also looking for books I loved as a kid.   For that matter, I miss great bookstores I have known over the years, such as the Little Professor bookstore in Lexington, Kentucky, Davis-Kidd Booksellers in Nashville, and Borders Books in Towson, Maryland.

I miss Sears.  Don’t laugh.  Back in the day, before some genius decided they should offer shopping carts and before they fired most of their staff, back when they had actual salespeople who worked there for years and really knew their products, and were proud of them, Sears was a great store.  Don’t even get me started on the Wish Book.  I eagerly awaited that thing and spent hours lying on my stomach on the living room rug, studying this prized document and dog-earing many pages.  Their Kenmore appliances were as good as anybody’s, better than most, and their Craftsman tools were built to last, with their lifetime warranty.  You could count on them.

I miss Penney’s.  My mom used to say any mall with a Sears and a Penney’s was one she could work with, especially for buying kids’ clothes.  My brother wore out many a pair of Toughskins from Sears, with the reinforced knees for active kids.

I miss shopping at The Gap, and Gap Kids, and Baby Gap, where the kids’ clothes were expensive, but so cute.  Oddly, I don’t actually miss Toys R Us.  They had a lot of stuff and decent prices, but they sabotaged themselves by only having one or two lanes open, so no matter how happy you were when you went in there, by the time you waited for 15 minutes in dead silence to pay for your stuff, you were just done with it.  At least I was.

I miss going to the Sunglass Hut, looking at frames that are too expensive, and thinking about someday when I can walk in and buy any frames I want.

I miss Tiffany’s and Saks Fifth Avenue, with their psychological warfare of making you open the glass door first and walk in – like you might not even be welcome – and looking at things I could never possibly afford.  Confession: at Saks, I never even shopped, but I used their bathrooms, which were pristine.  Pristine!

Speaking of snooty, from more recent days I miss the salespeople at Mac and Sephora, of every possible gender, all dressed in black, heavily made up, acting like they were doing you the biggest favor in the world – until you talked to them a little, showed you were nice, and then they mostly ended up being pretty nice, too.

I miss the kiosk for Rosetta Stone.  I just liked thinking about all those languages.

I miss the old Banana Republic and Abercrombie & Fitch, when they were super-cool travel stores with 40s music playing, impractical leather luggage, and tropical décor like you could step out on safari at any moment.

I miss going into Victoria’s Secret and feeling like it was like this secret cool girls’ club.

I miss Yankee Candle, especially around Halloween.

I miss Macy’s.  I miss going into Macy’s, Dillard’s, Belk, or some great department stores that don’t exist anymore, like McAlpin’s, Stewart’s, Shillito’s, Tapp’s, White’s, Goldwater’s, Hecht’s and Hutzler’s, and spraying myself with so many perfume samples that I become one giant detonated floral bomb.

I miss Nina Ricci’s “L’Air du Temps.”  I miss “Lauren,” by Ralph Lauren.  I miss “White Shoulders.”  Funny story: once on my break from working at Fayette Mall Cinemas in Lexington, Ky., I scampered to Shillito’s to spray myself with “Lauren,” which I couldn’t afford, and it was the exact same bottle but it was lotion!  I sprayed it all over my neck, then instantly ducked in shame because, of course, as a teenager you think everyone is watching you.

I miss the snotty Clinique ladies in their white coats, and waiting until they do me the favor of noticing that I’m standing there at the counter.

Again, speaking of snotty, I even miss Blockbuster Video.  They were so nasty about fining you if you didn’t rewind!  They had lots of fines, were arrogant and deserved their comeuppance, and I was glad when some competition like Hollywood Video came on the scene, but still.  On a Friday night for a while there, Blockbuster’s was the place to be.  There was a great video/DVD store in Charlottesville called Sneak Reviews.  It had a terrific foreign section, and lots of classic movies.  It was fun to just go to a video store and look at the world of possibilities!

I miss shopping for shoes and actually trying them on, instead of looking at Zappo’s and hoping for the best.

I miss making an effort before I went to the mall, because you never knew who else might be there.  I know, it sounds kind of like the lady I read about on the internet who likes the Dollar Store, because “you don’t have to get all dressed up like you do for Walmart,” but back in the day, the mall was the place to be seen!

Now, before you gently remind me that malls killed Main Street, just as video killed the radio star, let me say that I was a kid of the suburbs.  I could ride my bike to the mall.  Downtown Lexington was too far away, and my mom wouldn’t have wanted me going down there by myself, but the mall was safe.  And except for the Lansdowne Shoppes, an upscale-ish strip mall down the hill from our street, that was pretty much all we had nearby.

I miss going to the mall bathrooms and thinking how clean they were, especially compared to my dorm bathrooms.

I miss looking at furniture!  Pottery Barn, Crate & Barrel, This End Up, and even Macy’s, which had surprisingly good prices because volume, volume, volume.  I miss looking through the stacks of Karastan rugs.

I miss studying real Sterling silver patterns, and looking at crystal and china and everyday ironstone and the bridal registries, and thinking about someday.

I miss going into Williams-Sonoma and wondering how anybody could ever afford to pay $300 for a skillet.

In Lexington, way back in the day, near the entrance to Fayette Mall there was this store that was a bit of Old Black Forest Germany, with cuckoo clocks, and these wooden Christmas decorations where you light a candle and they spin round and round.   I don’t even know what they were called, and the store is long gone, but if you owned that store and on the slim chance you are reading this:  I remember your store.  I loved it.

In Columbia, S.C., at Columbia Mall there used to be this German deli, with big old barrel pickles and incredible German potato salad.

I miss Pappagallo stores, and Aigner purses, and Izod sweaters, and real Tretorns, not the fake ones they have now under the same brand name.  I miss walking in the jewelry store and looking at Add-a-Beads, real gold ones, with real 24k gold chains, and thinking they were so expensive, how could anybody afford a whole necklace all at once.

I miss walking into Bath & Body Works and smelling every single thing in the store.

I miss seeing oldsters and moms with strollers doing laps from one end of the mall to the other.

I think it’s fair to say that during the lockdown, I have helped contribute to Jeff Bezos’s net worth, which is now something like 1 percent of the U.S. GDP.   It’s pretty amazing, you can order anything in the world on Amazon, not have to leave your home, and get it in two days.

We have gained a lot.  But man, have we lost a lot, too.

© Janet Farrar Worthington




It’s another beautiful morning in Prescott, Arizona, the mile-high town in the mountains that is my home. It’s a school day, so I’m up early. Who am I kidding, I would be up early, anyway, because the dogs have some kind of internal Greenwich Mountain Time atomic clock that causes them to wake me – no one else, just me – up at 6:30 every day. On a weekend, if I’m lucky, I can go back to sleep.

The day starts, as always, with the delightful and incredibly satisfying sound of a lightsaber battle. There are no Jedi here (these aren’t the droids you’re looking for, either)… No, it’s hummingbirds at our feeders.  When hummingbirds zoom past you with their little wings flapping as fast as they can, they make a buzzing sound. It used to scare me to death: I thought it was a giant bee coming to take me away. Now, I’m used to it, and it just makes me happy.   Plus, I think about Obi Wan and Anakin before he went over to the dark side.

Josh and I have been doing a lot better with our time management in the mornings, and we are in the car at 7:40, which gives us a comfortable margin of time to get to Mile High Middle School.

Josh in the car, check.

Backpack, check.

Water bottle, check.

Molly the Chocolate Lab at her post in the back seat, check.

Sunglasses deployed. We’re cleared for takeoff.

I am backing out of the garage and what do I see in my rear view mirror? It’s the unmistakable and surreal image of a mountain lion coming out of the woods on one side of the driveway and crossing into the woods on the other side.   Our house backs up to Willow Creek, which is a real wildlife magnet.

But this is a big freaking zoo animal in my back yard. Several inches taller than Molly, and at least a foot longer. Slightly more golden than Stanley, our mighty, buff-colored Cocker Spaniel. Muscular shoulders and haunches. Long, sinuous tail, not unlike that of Shere Khan in the “Jungle Book” movie (but probably without the cultured English accent of George Sanders). We haven’t seen any coyotes or javelinas lately; this large dude is probably the reason why.

“Oh, my God!” I shout. This part is not actually a regular feature of a morning in Prescott.

This is the second time I have seen a mountain lion in our driveway. The first one I saw a couple years ago, and it was at about the same time – except then I had just come home from taking Josh to school. I had just gotten out of the car and just let Molly out and thank goodness, Molly was facing me. That mountain lion was even longer than the one I saw today, and it looked right at me as it crossed the driveway – about 50 feet away from us – and went back into the woods. Molly never saw it, thank God.

I am not digging this up-close and personal look at predators.

But we’ve got to get to school, so off we go.

We make it onto Williamson Valley Road and then turn onto Iron Springs, and we’re back in our routine. There she is, the lady who’s always walking down the sidewalk as we’re going to school. She has graying, reddish hair, a light blue jacket – when it’s cold, she upgrades to a thicker black jacket – and she’s always smoking. I worry about that.

This is a small town, so there are some regulars I see fairly often. I’ve talked to a couple of them before.

There’s Mark, who used to sit in his wheelchair, wearing his big cowboy hat, at the corner of Miller Valley and Fair Street and collect money for a house. I stopped a couple times and talked to him. A local group was going to help him move into a house, but he needed to come up with some money first, he told me. A couple weeks later, he said that it was all up in the air now, because there was a judgment against him in Nebraska. I didn’t know what that meant, but he was still out there collecting money, so I gave him a couple bucks. Then I didn’t see him for a while, and when I was at Rehab Fry’s, across the street from where Mark usually sits, the cashier told me that he had a stroke and was down in Phoenix. Mark was not there again today.

There’s another lady, who has a lot of gray hair that may be in dreadlocks, and she wears it up on top of her head in a distinctive dome shape. I haven’t talked to her, but Josh has, when we were with his youth group from Prescott United Methodist Church at the Granite Creek Hunger Potluck, which has served up a big free meal every Saturday morning since 1998.   It’s at Granite Creek Park on Saturday mornings if you ever want to come. I think she’s doing okay.

There’s an older gentleman who walks around downtown very slowly. I usually see him on Gurley Street. I have talked to him before, but I don’t know his name. He wears a Korean War veteran hat, and he pushes a walker. There he is, coming by the Leap of Faith Tattoo shop.

Not seen today – actually, come to think of it, I haven’t seen him for a while – is the Dark Lord. I’m not kidding, that’s his name.   I often see him later in the day, walking along Miller Valley road, wearing wizard’s robes. Sometimes with a skin-tight red dress underneath. He has long, dark hair and often smokes. He is very striking. One day, I thought, what the heck, I’m going to Google him, so I looked up “man, wizard’s robes, Prescott,” and found a news story featuring coverage of a previous arrest; not his finest moment.

We make it school – once again, not late! Yay!

On the way home, I stop at Rehab Fry’s to get gas. Fry’s is our version of Kroger, and this one is in a neighborhood that has more than its share of drug rehab homes; I like this store a lot. It has a great produce section.

There is a white rehab van at the next pump. We have all these drug rehab group homes in Prescott, for some reason, although there are far fewer now than there used to be, because the city has finally started putting some regulations in place. This is good, because some of those homes were not helping anybody.

I’m not sure how much helping was happening with the guys next to me. This one heavily tattooed guy was talking very loudly to another heavily tattooed guy about what a player he was. In fact, he put it right out there: “You know I’m a player.” Then he added, “Nobody at treatment was into gambling until I got here.”

Yes, just another morning in Prescott, my quirky, beautiful home town.  I feel like Mr. Rogers.  I may not have Henrietta Pussycat, King Friday, or Mr. McFeely of Speedy Delivery, but I’ve got mountain lions, Jedi hummingbirds, players, and a bunch of interesting people.

One more thing: When I got home, I bought two locally made calendars, one for 2017 (even though it’s half over) and one for 2018, from The Whimsical Woodsman. The money goes to a good cause, and the pictures are hilarious. Coy pinup “Dudeoir” (rhymes with boudoir) shots of big, burly lumberjacks who clearly don’t take themselves too seriously, all done to raise money for Books to the Rescue, a Prescott charity that gives books and other items to first responders, so they can help kids in crisis situations. Now, I know what you may be thinking: “I don’t have enough pictures of large, scantily dressed woodsmen.” Today’s your lucky day!

P.S.  I took the picture of the Leap of Faith Tattoo shop from my car!  I was driving by and saw the truck parked out front and thought it was too good to miss.

©Janet Farrar Worthington



Still Weird at the Grocery Store

I haven’t written much lately about my morning trips to the grocery store, but I just want to check in and say that it’s still as weird as ever out there.  Today I dropped Josh off at school and popped by my customary grocery store, a quirky place we call Rehab Fred’s* (because of its proximity to Prescott’s many drug and alcohol group homes) to pick up stuff for supper.   

I had intended to get just a few things, but they were having a sale on canned beans and tomatoes.  We like chili, so this seemed like something I should say yes to – 10 cans for $10.  I got 20, which meant I couldn’t go through the self-checkout lane.  It was a risk, I took it, and there I was, in line for Mr. Grumpy, my least favorite cashier, when a new lane opened up.  “I can take you on 5,” a different checkout guy said.   He was refreshingly normal, cheerful and polite.  The bagger, however, was just odd.  Picture the actor, Jack Black, except less mentally stable.

“Do you have your Fred’s card?” 

“I’m just going to do the Alt ID,” I said.  There is a button on the credit card reader; you click that and then type in your phone number. 

A voice rang out from the other end of my cart, where the bagger was loading up the groceries.  “ALT ID!”

I didn’t really know how to respond, so I just kind of smiled. 

The cashier kept scanning my many cans of Bush’s pinto, red kidney, and cannellini beans (Bush’s is gluten-free, an essential tidbit of knowledge if you’ve got someone with celiac disease in the house, as we do). 


Oh, God.  Please stop now.  I smiled and desperately made zero eye contact by rummaging in my purse.  The cashier was done, but I didn’t slide my card yet.

“You can go ahead and sign,” he said. 

“I was waiting for the blue lights on the thing,” I said.  You know how when you slide your card, you’re supposed to wait for these flashing blue lights?  Anyway, that’s how these machines work around here, and if you slide your card before the blue lights, you end up having to do it again.


bananasThe Thing, a movie starring James Arness.  Thing, the disembodied hand in the Addams Family.  It was early morning, and I hadn’t fully caffeinated yet, and I couldn’t think of the words, “credit card reader.”  Yes, I said “thing.”  A little understanding would not be out of place here.

The cashier pushed a button, the blue lights flashed, I slid the card, I signed my name, and was just ready to be handed that receipt so I could get out of there.


I truly had no idea what to say, so I just got my receipt and scurried away, that same awkward smile on my face.

©Janet Farrar Worthington

*I changed the name of the grocery store.

We were already two minutes late for school, and Josh and I were two lights away from glory, or Prescott Mile High Middle School, whichever came first.  Right turn ahead: We had the green light!  Yeah, baby!  And then I put on the brakes because there was a woman in the crosswalk, crossing against the light.  Our green light!  She stopped in the middle of the street.  I stopped, too.  We made eye contact.   I made an impatient grimace and waved my hand for her to cross, about as ungraciously as I could.  I’ve been feeling guilty about it ever since.  I could have smiled and waved her across, and maybe made her whole day.  Instead, I probably messed it up.  I was George H.W. Bush in the 1992 presidential debate with Bill Clinton, impatiently checking his watch after an annoying question.   I was irritated, we were late, I took it out on her, and it felt bad even at the time.  Now it feels worse, because the whole way home, I was thinking: I have a hard little nugget of a heart.

Even when I do the right thing, it’s often not with a good heart, with joy and delight at the opportunity to help someone.  It’s with a grudging heart, like the Grinch pre-Christmas morning. There’s a lady who asks me for rides sometimes.  I always say yes, but I don’t like it.  The whole time, I’m sighing loudly in my head.  It’s not really even that inconvenient; it’s just the principle of the thing!  Let’s just stop and think about that one for a minute:  what principle?  My principal desire not to be bothered!  What the heck!  Prescott has panhandlers out the kazoo.  Just about every time I go to the grocery store, bank, or post office, there’s another one, holding a cardboard sign with the mandatory, “God bless you,” or “Anything helps.”  Yada, yada, yada.  I don’t like this.  And yet, every time I open the Bible, it’s as if God is just putting the message in my face, “Help the poor. Help the needy. Love other people.”  Aw, man!  Dang.  So, grumble, grumble, grumble, I give them a few dollars and one of the bottles of water I keep in my car.  When I do it, I am actually glad to have made the effort, but I sure didn’t want to, and I go through the exact same struggle the very next time I see one.  I’m Lionel Barrymore in It’s a Wonderful Life.  “Back in my day, we worked for a living!  We worked, I tell you!  And we walked to school, uphill both ways, in our bare feet!  On sharp rocks!  We didn’t have anything handed to us!”  Actually, I’ve had a lot handed to me, so I can’t even try to pull that one off.  I know how lucky I am, and I also know that I don’t know anything about the scruffy guy not making eye contact holding out the sign, and I don’t have the right to judge him.  But I still don’t like it.

I have given truckloads of stuff to Goodwill over the years.  But mainly I did it to get rid of my crap.  There, I’m confessing that, too.  So I have been thinking a lot, and having conversations with myself like this: “You did something that helped someone.” “Yes, but I didn’t want to do it.”  “But you did it.”  “But I didn’t like it.”  Does it count, on the big moral abacus in the sky, when you do something that’s good, but you don’t want to?  I thought of that story of  the boy who started throwing stranded starfish back into the ocean — or, like my Dad and I have done, saving stranded earthworms on the pavement by flinging them back into the grass after a rain — so they wouldn’t dry out.  A cranky old guy (cranky like me, except with testosterone) says something like, “Why bother, kid? You can’t make a difference.”  Then the kid says, “It makes a difference to this one,” and chucks it in the water.

I called my Dad and asked him what he thought.  He said, “If you do something through gritted teeth, you’ll come out stronger, because you worked through it.”  I also sought the wisdom of Claire Saunders, Associate Pastor at my church, Prescott United Methodist.  In the grand scheme, she says, “doing good, even begrudgingly, never negates the good done.  Offering someone a ride who needs it, even when the inside of your brain is beyond annoyed with it, still gets that person from Point A to Point B.  Giving someone a bottle of water might make a huge difference in someone’s life.  Who knows how far that ‘pay it forward’ type of action might travel?

“We are all a part of this big web of humanity.  We get the choice to be a positive influence or a negative influence on those we encounter on a daily basis.  That can be annoying as heck sometimes.  Which means that often, our ‘good’ is done with a grumble and an eye roll.  Doing good is good, but sometimes our own hardened hearts prevent us from feeling that same ‘good’ that we seek to offer others.”

So I guess the mission here is a two-parter.  One:  Try to do good when I can, especially when I just want to say “Bah, humbug!” and hide under a pillow, because the good deed does still count — even when the heart of the giver is a hard little nugget.    Two: Work on making my heart a little bit bigger and a little bit softer.

Jeff and Jennifer Herbert chose Prescott because they love this small town in the Arizona mountains.  Jeff is a firefighter who works 56 hours a week in Phoenix, commuting 200 miles every three days. Jen, a talented teacher and endurance equestrian, among other pursuits, does a lot of work in Phoenix, too, but they live here, with their two young sons and two huge black Labs.  It’s a good place to call home.

Thanks to the Herberts, Prescott is on the map for another reason:  Mead.  The drink of Vikings, the nectar of ancient kings.  Jeff Herbert is an artisan mead maker.  Mead is his passion.  It doesn’t take much to get him started talking about it, because he loves it — the art of it, the history.  He loves the idea that you can take things like vanilla, berries, orange juice, mesquite, peach, coriander, Spanish saffron, galena hops, blue agave nectar, and add them to wild-yeast fermented, native Arizona honey and age them in oak barrels and test them and experiment and let nature work its magic, and add a lot of love and tending, and craft a beverage so special that the act of drinking it is an experience in itself.  Tireless and dedicated, Jeff started making hisphoto 13 Superstition Mead, named after Arizona’s Superstition Mountains.  They took their small batches of mead to dozens of tastings and wine festivals and started winning awards.  Seven of the top 50 meads in the world, as ranked on ratebeer.com, are theirs.  Jeff is the editor of the journal, American Mead Maker.  Superstition Mead was even featured on an episode of Two and a Half Men last month.

For years, they wanted to open a brewery and tasting room of their own.  They found the perfect place, right in the heart of Prescott’s lovely downtown.  It was a ruin of a building, 110 years old, in bad shape, but the Herberts had vision, and faith in the owner.  The owner took a lot longer than expected to fix up the place, but the Herberts hung in there, missing some opportunities to host special events and parties because the building wasn’t ready yet.  In the meantime, they poured their vision into creating the perfect wine cellar.   Jen found an old barn and took that gorgeous wood and sanded it for days, and it became paneling on the wall.  They refurbished tables and chairs they got from an old church and made them elegant again.  They believed, and they waited, and from the day the Meadery opened, it has been packed.  On busy weekends, when the tourists come up from Phoenix and over from California, the Meadery is hopping.  It’s the place to be.  Martha Stewart would call it one of life’s “good things.”

You would think that the Meadery’s landlord would be grateful to the Herberts for making his building a Prescott destination.   I would think that.  I would not expect, instead, that the landlord would do something that not only seems like a slap in the face, but like something that could really hurt their business.  It’s not just biting the hand that has fed you; it’s taking a dump on it, if you’ll pardon the expression.  The Meadery is in the basement of 120 W. Gurley Street.  To get to it, you have to go through an open market that sells things like gourmet sauces.   The owner has applied to get a liquor license so that he can turn the main floor and upstairs into a bar.  So to get to the Meadery, you would have to walk through another bar.  You couldn’t buy any bottles of mead — as you can now — to take home, because according to state law, you’re not allowed to “carry alcohol into another licensed premise.”  The Herberts are very worried, and rightfully so, that this will put them and their nine employees out of business.  I’m no lawyer, so it wouldn’t do me any good to bandy about phrases like “restriction of trade,” but this seems pretty crummy to me.

I’m writing about it because this is a small town, where people look out for each other.  Superstition Meadery deserves better than this, and so do the Herberts.

This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.


photo 12 croppedIn our small Arizona mountain town of Prescott — pronounced “Preskitt,” rhymes with biscuit — there are two Fred’s grocery stores.  In our family shorthand, they are “North Fred’s” and “Rehab Fred’s,” because the latter happens to be near a lot of drug and alcohol rehab places, which we seem to have a lot of in Prescott.  The clientele at the North Fred’s is more suburban; the Rehab Fred’s is more quirky.  That’s okay.  Prescott is quirky.

At the nearby Wal-Mart, for instance, it is routine to see cowboys wearing their sidearms strapped to their belts.  I have given up being fazed by people sporting pajamas, or wild, enormous tattoos, or anything that might have turned my delicate head back east.  Live and let live, it’s Prescott.  I just push my cart.  Once, though, at Wal-Mart, out of the corner of my eye, I noticed something dark and small behind me.  Very small, too short to be a person.  That’s because it was a duck.  A black duck, just standing in line.  He seemed to be hanging with two human companions, by their cart.  I sneaked a picture with my phone.  Later, I mentioned it to someone who works at Wal-Mart.  “Yeah, they come here a lot.”  What I love about my town is that nobody batted an eye.  A duck in the express checkout lane … that’s just Prescott.

Today I went to the Rehab Fred’s, trying to hurry, as always, so I could come back home and get to work.  There he was, my least favorite cashier, Mr. Grumpy.  I have written about him before.  He has a thing about scanning the Fred’s VIP card before he will scan a single grocery item.  He won’t move without that card.  I don’t like this, because if I’m behind the cart, trying to put its entire contents on the conveyor belt as quickly as possible, I don’t like having to push the cart aside, take those two extra steps — it’s the principle of the thing — and give the guy my card.  He is the sole exception in all my Fred’s shopping experiences; every other cashier will just start scanning.  The cash register doesn’t care; you still get the VIP discount.  Not Mr. Grumpy.  In the past, he has actually folded his hands and waited until I gave him the card before he would scan a single item.  Not even a bunch of grapes, or a single bottle of ketchup.  He would not scan them with a mouse, he would not scan them in a house.  He would not scan them at all, the louse.   Today, I wasn’t having it.

“Do you have your Fred’s VIP card?”  Yes, I said, “but can I give it to you in a minute?”  He sighed.  “I guess so.”  The bagger guy stepped forward and asked if he could help me unload my cart.  “Yeah, she needs it,” the cashier said.  Grr.  Still, I count it as a victory.  On the way out, in succession, I saw three things.  One was a lone piece of broccoli in the parking lot.  I took a picture of it.  As Samwise Gamgee said in Fellowship of the Ring, “I don’t know why, It makes me sad.”  Two, a bumper sticker:  “Honk if you really need to poop.”  Why would anyone have this on his or her car? To feel solidarity — no pun intended — with anyone who honks?  Seriously, I am baffled.  Then, another bumper sticker:  “Constipated people don’t give a poop.”  Except it didn’t say poop.  Again, why this needed to be said is a mystery to me.  I don’t have a bumper sticker, but if I had to choose one, it would probably have a happy dog on it or something.

But live and let live.  It’s Prescott, where life is generally pretty good.

This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington. P.S. I changed the name of the grocery store.

So, you have a dream, and it’s not going well.  You not only feel like you’re up that special creek without a paddle, there’s a hole in the boat.  And you can’t swim, and you just saw an alligator.  And you’re having chest pain!  What do you do?

Well, if you’re in the little mountain town of Prescott, Arizona, and your dream is to have your own small restaurant, maybe you try Kickstarter.  You’re not being greedy — you just need $15,000.  That’s not that much, is it?  Just a few pledges.  Instead, you got zero pledges.  Then, the city starts giving you grief, zoning you as a church, delaying permits.  You have put everything you have into this dream.  You’ve got the place, the know-how, a great idea, people hired, and you’re just waiting on the city.  You’re paying electricity and water and rent and bringing in no income.  So you sell your car, and some other stuff.  Through stubbornness, desperation, faith in your dream, and no small amount of true grit, you make it happen.  All because you believed in your dream. What do you do next?

You open up, and start making hot dogs from scratch. Curing your own bacon. Making your own mustard — three kinds.  Making your own buns, and incredibly good cookies.  And South Carolina mustard-based, pulled pork barbecue!  Then, in your first days of business, you charge a dollar extra for your cookies, and you don’t take a cent of it — that money goes into a jar for Wounded Warriors, because you’re that kind of person.  Three people, actually.

I am here to tell you that the dream was worth believing in.  And the potato salad not only has fresh dill, it has a lot of their home-cured bacon.  The Chicago dog is so authentic, you can almost hear Harry Caray singing “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”  God rest his soul.

The restaurant is named “Nastee Dogs,” and it’s at 232 S. Montezuma Street, a block off the downtown square.  The only thing I’d change about this place is the name.  It should be “Damn Fine Hot Dogs.”

Rudyard Kipling wrote a poem for his son called “If.”  This is part of it:  “IF you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise…

Yours is the Earth, and everything that’s in it.”

Godspeed, Nastee Dogs.


This post and all blog content Ⓒ Copyright Janet Farrar Worthington.