Words fail me.

Gee, let’s see if we can come up with some new regulatory rules of our own:

GM gets to decide what’s safe in its ignition switches. Say what?! You put your house keys on the same key ring as your car key? No lawsuit for you, pal.
You and I get to decide how much we’ll pay in taxes come April, depending on our mood and our attitude toward the current presidential administration.
The TSA trumps the U.S. Supreme Court in interpreting the Constitution.
Cop drones buzzing over your backyard while you’re skinny-dipping will result in your immediate arrest for indecent exposure.
Insurance companies will decide what medical care you can have.

Wait…isn’t that last one already reality? Maybe all the others are, too.


Did you know that Dogs Got Rhythm? That you can train a dog to dance with you, pretty easily?

Wynton Marsalis is on the noise-maker just now, and of course that marvelous acoustical jazz has a strong, distinctive beat. When you dance to that beat, all by yourself, your apprentice dancing dog is captivated. She comes over and stares up at you, astonished. If she’s a herding dog, as, for example, a corgi is, she may try to get you to shape up there! by feinting at your feet. She will dance around you with great delight. And if you hold your hands out at her height, she will rare up on her hind legs, place her front paws in your hands, and actually jig with you.

Heh! The simple things in life are the best things. ;-)

It’s been a morning interrupted about every ten or fifteen minutes by stuff like that. I have done NOTHING since rolling out of the sack at 6:30, having overslept an hour by dog standards.

Well, almost nothing: I did write a fairly lengthy e-mail to a client and review the copy I wrote yesterday for Fire-Rider Book II.

Damn, I’m good! It’s an unusual chapter, unlike anything I’ve written before: all three scenes consist of the characters’ interior reflections. So far I’ve only got three brief passages of dialogue — but still have the third scene to write. Took some doing to convince myself to try this technique, if “technique” it is: I was afraid it would feel too static. Too Proustian, one might say. But it’s working. The characterization positively smokes, and IM-not-very-HO, it actually moves the thematic issues forward by a great leap.

But every time I sit down to write the final scene, something happens (or I cause something to happen), breaking any nascent train of thought that might be in progress.

The phone rang at 8 a.m. Dougie: he has eight new glass crosses in the kiln for me to convert into rosaries. I’m to drop by his studio this evening, after he gets off his day job.

Pup has conceived a great craving to visit the out of doors. Of course, the out of doors happens to be hotter than the hubs of Hades just now, so these junkets don’t last long. She’s out. She’s in. She’s out. She’s in. She’s out. She’s….argh! Mercifully, the dancing lesson exhausted her, and now she’s crapped out on the cool, cool tile floors.

While trudging back and forth between the back door and my work chair, I noticed the cleaning lady had done a nice job of polishing up the sink. Decided to fill both sinks with water and drain them, by way of helping to keep the plumbing unplugged. This reminded me that the garbage disposal has been backing up into the large adjacent sink. Many gallons of water surging through the two drains, between concocting of pots of coffee, did little to help. Called the plumber; left word.

Ran some ammonia down the offending drain. Filled both sinks with hot water. Drained. Twice. This seemed to help some. Hm.

Noticed the cleaning lady had not cleaned the hard-water spots off the brightwork around the drain in the big sink. Scoured it and the fitting around the garbage disposal with Barkeeper’s Helper. Little avail there.

Soaked a paper towel with vinegar and patted it down around the regular drain’s brightwork. Fifteen minutes later, came back to find that, yes, that worked pretty well. Scrubbed it with some Weimann’s glass stovetop cleaner and a toothbrush. Nice. Extremely nice.

Repeated the process on the brightwork around the garbage disposal. Worked there, too. The plumber will be sooo impressed with “my” housekeeping…

The radically expensive faucet set that I installed back in the day when I had a steady income had developed rings of hard-water deposits around the four parts that protrude from the back of the sink. This elegant set, which I purchased at an upscale interior design and hardware store, cost a freaking ARM AND A LEG! It was billed as brushed stainless steel.


Make that made-in-China-style fake stainless-steel veneer laid down over base metal and, in the case of the spray attachment, over plastic. Get vinegar on this fine stainless steel, and it eats right through to the base. Not stains it, as acids will if left very long on on real stainless steel: eats it off. So trying to get the crust off the enameled sink around the bases of the faucet set presents a challenge.

Tried Barkeeper’s Helper again: no luck, again. Apparently BKH can be declared impotent against Colorado River water.

Finally decided to try rubbing the vinegar-soaked towel over the crud and wiping off the vinegar as quickly as possible. This worked…eventually. But it took a long, long time. And it didn’t do the fake stainless-steel finish any good.

What junk we Americans have resigned ourselves to furnishing our lives with, now that most of our manufacturing has moved offshore. I need to buy a new set — the plumber advised not replacing it with another high-end set, because, says he, no matter how many dollars you spend on domestic hardware, it’s all trash. He says Home Depot carries faucet sets in similar styles that are the same junk. They’ll have to be replaced no sooner than the expensive junk, and so you lose nothing by buying cheap junk: over the long run, the cost is actually less because the alleged good stuff is engineered to crap out just as fast as the HD special.


And speaking of spending money on the kitchen, one of these days I’m gonna have to replace the kitchen counter, or if possible get it repaired. Tracking down a tile guy or deciding what else could replace the Mexican tile and finding someone to install that is more than I can bear just now. But soon, soon I’ll be forced to it.

Shortly after Mike the Bosnian Godfather installed this particular counter (the guy was a tiling genius, in addition to running an empire of skilled craftsmen), three or four of the tiles developed some hairline cracks. He was reluctant to replace them (knowing, in a way  you and I could not possibly know, what a PITA it is to pull out and replace individual soft-fired Mexican tiles…), because he thought the cracks must have resulted from some settling and suspected more cracks would develop. He suggested waiting some months before proceeding with any repairs.

Then Mike fell off the roof of one of his rentals (yeah, he has a rental empire, too, that includes not only several houses and an apartment building here but also an apartment building and a villa in Bosnia) and busted up his ankle. As you can imagine, the delights of hauling boxes of tile around no longer called to him. So he retired from the tile business.

No more cracks appeared until quite recently. A few weeks ago, the countertop on the righthand side of the sink pulled away from the tiled backsplash, splitting the grout and cracking several of the field tiles.


I don’t even know whether these can be repaired, nor do I have any idea where to find a tile guy with the kind of expertise necessary to do the job. You’ve got to be pretty good at this kind of thing to know what you’re doing and to do it right. {sigh}

I suppose I could replace the tile counters with granite. But y’know…secretly, I just don’t like granite countertops. They’re very nice,  I’m sure (assuming you don’t use lemons, limes, or vinegar when you cook…). But…meh!

When granite first became the rage, I recall thinking that it was going, one day, to be just like all that damn avocado green and harvest gold everyone put in their houses when I was a kid. You’d walk into someone’s house and think, “Ohhh! You redecorated this kitchen in 1979, didn’t you!” Ugh.

So, OK, granite counters haven’t gone out of style. Unfortunately. Now what I don’t like about them is that everybody has them. They are, in a word, B-O-O-O-O-R-ING

Besides. If tile can settle and crack, why can’t granite settle and crack? Ditto the briefly popular concrete countertops?

The kitchen in our old house in Encanto had two sinks. One of them — the one I used the most — was set in a countertop make of a large slab of butcher block.

Yes. A wooden kitchen countertop with a sink in the middle of it. I just loved that thing! It was wonderful to use and easy to take care of — all you had to do was rub a little mineral oil into it every few months. It stayed gorgeous, and it was totally, completely DIFFERENT.

The counter where the present huge double sink resides is 10 feet 8 inches long. So…hang onto your hats… What if the sinks were flanked by small platforms of tilework, and the rest of the counter were butcherblock?

Would that look weird?

Uhm. Possibly.

So what if the whole open, unobstructed 10 3/4-foot-long counter were topped with butcherblock and the small backsplash at the far right end retained its pretty tilework, which matches the tile around the stove on the opposite side of the kitchen?

Now that…that could be cool.



Dollars Got Wings…

July 29, 2014

Lordie, what a money hemorrhage! Dollar bills (or maybe we should say bills in denominations of $50 and $100) have sprouted little butterfly wings and are flying out the windows and doors. An AMEX bill of less than two grand feels like an accomplishment these days. Getting ready for surgery and an unknown recuperation period […]

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How Much Does Home-Made Dog Food Cost…

July 28, 2014

…compared to a comparable canned dog food? Cassie and Ruby eat a diet of real food — about 1/2 high-quality meat protein, 1/4 dog-friendly vegetables, and 1/4 starchy foods, plus a daily vitamin. It’s comparable to an ultra-premium canned food, except that rotating the ingredients doesn’t make either dog sick, as changing up commercial pet […]

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Some People’s Kids

July 27, 2014

{grump!} This morning when I headed out for the not-daily-enough two-mile walk, along about 6 ayem, I picked up a branch that had snapped off the neighbor’s silk oak and went to carry it to the giant trash bin in the alley. Shee-ut! Someone (or possibly last night’s microburst) had tipped over that gigantic thing […]

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Rain! At LAST!

July 27, 2014

Last night we finally got a decent rain here, for the first time in I would say two years. Maybe more. The ’hood is in the rain shadow of the North Mountains, and so even when other parts of the city do see rainfall, we do not. A day or so ago, Scottsdale had a […]

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