Phoenix, Arizona — December 8, 2016

When I was traveling in Portugal and Spain, I seemed to have lots of time to read and write. Now that I am home, I have trouble finding any free time. I haven’t read anything since I got home except for a few online newspaper articles, and I’ve gotten no work done on the novel I’m writing. I don’t understand how that can be, because I am retired and should have lots of time. I did manage to get a few things done today, however. I finally got my luggage unpacked, and I got a badly-needed haircut. Oh, and I cooked, cut up, and froze about five pounds of chicken breasts.

On my first flight back from Portugal, the flight from Lisbon to Newark, the woman sitting across the aisle from me was enormous. She was so large that she had to dangle her right arm in the aisle. There wasn’t enough room for her entire body to fit into the seat. She sat almost motionless the entire flight except for a frequent cough, and she coughed without covering her mouth. I was a bit worried that she might have something that could be contagious and would have symptoms of it by now. She either kept her eyes closed or looked straight ahead of herself. It seemed as if even moving her eyes might expend too much energy.

As we began the descent to Newark Airport, she finally turned her head towards me, pointed downward with one finger of her dangling arm and asked, “Já?” That is a Portuguese word that in that context I would translate as, “Are we there yet?” I answered, “Sim, já” or “yes, we’re there.” Satisfied with my answer, she turned her head to the front again and resumed staring at the back of the seat in front of her.

I saw something that I found interesting while out riding my bike this morning, although perhaps no one else would have given it a second glance. I passed by Coronado Park in Scottsdale, a nearby Phoenix suburb, and I saw a crew of three men dismantling this contraption in one of the parking lots. A sign on the side of a truck parked nearby said the company had the highest inflatable water slide in the world. I guess this is the slide.

Part of the slide had already been dismantled and was lying on the parking lot looking like a very large sheet of cloth. The man standing on it was operating a leaf blower, I assume for the purpose of drying it, so that the fabric could be rolled up.

I wish I could have seen the slide in operation yesterday with kids sliding down it. However, the weather yesterday was a bit on the chilly side for sliding down a water slide in a bathing suit and getting soaking wet.