Funny about Money

The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing. ―Edmund Burke

January 1, 2019
by funny

Monks, Bums, and Pee Pads: Why I Love the Walmart

Yes. If there was ever any question whether Funny is politically incorrect (really??), let it be forever dispelled: I love the Walmart in our neighborhood.


Well, in the first place, it’s the only grocery store within about an eight-mile radius where I feel safe getting out of  the car in the parking lot. This is because unlike the Safeway or the Albertson’s or the Walgreen’s or the Sprouts, they hire a security guard service. Actually, staffers at my favorite coffee house, right across the asphalt from the Walmart, say the shopping center hires the service, apparently grâce à a kind of protection racket (don’t ask: I can’t prove it; it’s just a rumor). When you don’t see an armed guard ambulating around the property, you see a massive male Walmart employee lurking out in front, allegedly wrangling the shopping carts but in fact transparently keeping an eye out for shenanigans.

Never once have I been harassed in that parking lot, which fronts right on Gangbanger’s Way. I’ve been harassed at the Safeway (which serves a very fancy part of North Central). I’ve been harassed at the Walgreen’s across from the Safeway and at the Walgreen’s in my neighborhood. I’ve been harassed at the Albertson’s in my neighborhood — indeed, chased around the parking lot at a run. I’ve been harassed at the Sprouts across the street from that Albertson’s. So annoying is this that I will cheerfully (well…grudgingly) drive through 20 miles of homicidal traffic to get free of it. Or…oh, indeed: or shop at the nearby Walmart.

The much-abused (so we’re told) staff at the Walmart are always nice to you. I’ve never met an employee there who wasn’t polite, kind, and helpful. And, as a lagniappe, nary a one of them is stupid as a post.

If they don’t know where something is (they usually do), they’ll try to find out. This is not invariably true at those other fine emporia: I no longer buy meat from the Safeway’s meat counter because one of their butchers was so rude to me. I’ve had clerks at the Whole Foods recognize at a glance that I decidedly did not belong there. At the Albertson’s…well, good luck finding an employee: they’re like Seldom Seen Smith. The staff (when you can find one) at the Paradise Valley Fry’s are very nice, but their efforts are negated by the Maserati-driving customers, who recognize poor white trash when they see it. 😀 Ditto the clientele at the Whole Foods, which since Amazon’s takeover sports even fewer hired help than the Albertson’s. But at the Walmart? No one at the Walmart treats you as though you don’t belong there, even when they are visibly tired, stressed, and overworked.

Which brings us to another small truth: Walmart people are my people.

That’s right. The customers behave as though they were decent human beings, even when they’re dressed in rags and buying their groceries with today’s equivalent of food stamps. I love Walmart people.

  • The tired-looking hard-working laborers who show up late in the afternoon
  • The Mexican mothers with their beautiful, sweetly behaved babes and toddlers, the mothers who speak Spanish with the cashiers, no doubt hired for the purpose
  • The disabled welfare recipients who stand patiently, endlessly in the line at the pharmacy (when the pharmacy’s open) and jump through hoops to get the care they need
  • The old people who amble around the store, searching for the best prices
  • The Black women, sharp and quick-looking, who no doubt also search for the best prices…but a great deal less obviously
  • The locals who act as though they were in a small-town corner grocery and will strike up a neighborly conversation with you at the drop of a hat
  • The hungry-looking, weary vagrants, also negotiating a purchase or two on “nutrition assistance”

They’ll all talk with you, genially enough, as though you were at a small-town corner grocery. Who knows? Maybe you are. Maybe Walmart is actually a port to the Twilight Zone.

I love these people because there’s a decency to them that you don’t find in the overpriced Fry’s or the Amazonized Whole Foods or the self-righteous Sprouts. No: they’re no more decent than you or I or Ms. Gotrocks. But they don’t hide what decency they have behind an elitist façade.

Today I rolled toward the checkout stand and found, ahead in the closest line, a clear and present homeless dude. Being old, single, and jaded, I tend to be wary of single homeless males. They can be all right. Or they can be…well, in need of medication. So….I roll into a longer line behind a youngish guy who appears to be, shall we say, mildly disabled intellectually. He’s clean, he looks honest, and I know I’m smarter and faster than he is, and so he’s my choice of fellow shoppers. Behind me: two other homeless or near-homeless guys, one of them hauling an oxygen tank. They’re clean enough and quiet. We wait until the cows come home while the cashier checks out the guy in front of the intellectually questionable guy. Then we wait some more because he has a sh!tload of stuff. In passing I think about asking the two homeless-looking dudes if they’d like to get in front of me but think better of it because they also have a basketful and I only have three things.

One of the guys ambles over to the machine that dispenses lottery tickets and shoves some change in there. The pot is $245 million. Silently I send a petition heavenward: Goddess! Hey, Goddess? Yeah, you, Ma’am. Please give this guy 245 million bucks. She refrains from emitting a reply at that moment.

But if you hear that some poor scruffy-looking fella in Phoenix won $245,000,000, you’ll know where that came from. 😉

To our right, another show is going on. We regulars who are in the know happen to know that the customer service desk will check you out, just like any of the check-out stand. Most people don’t do that, even though we’re aware of it, because it’s kind of rude to occupy the customer service lady with routine cashiering when there are people who really do need some special attention. But because it’s busy, a half-a-dozen shoppers are stacked up there, too.

Among them is a guy in a dress.


No: he’s a monk! A real monk. He’s wearing gray Franciscan robes and he has a beautiful crucifix around his neck and…by heaven, he’s the handsomest man you have ever seen in your life. Born 40 years too late and about 90 degrees too religious. But…gorgeous. And he exudes a kind of radiance. This is a man who is deeply happy, so it seems: presumably in his vocation.,

Happy New Year to ye, brother. And many happy more.

Wanna know a little secret? You’re not gonna see that guy at the Whole Foods…

Moving on… The reason I had to make a run on the Walmart was that I ran out of doggy pee pads. Poor little Cassie is really sick (again, still). And as you know, whatever little needs or emergencies that need to be attended to always occur on a major holiday. Wasn’t sure the store would be open today, but was very pleased to discover it was doing business.

Cassie has been going through four or five pee pads a day, between pissing on them (or missing them and puddling up the floor) and shitting on them. This is turning into a bit of a nightmare. Yesterday after cleaning up, cleaning up, and cleaning up again, I realized that I did not have enough paper sponge pads to last another 24 hours. And this, m’dears, presented a major problem. If it turned out that the Walmart was closed today — as any retailer that treats its employees decently would be — then the dogs and I were going to have an Issue.

What on earth was I going to do if the Walmart was closed? Really: THE last thing on this earth I felt like doing was running around the city searching for pee pads. Wheeeee!

But thank God Walmart treats its employees like slaves and yes, they were indeed impressed into service on New Year’s Day.

Last night was the usual seven kinds of Hell presented by New Year’s Eve in the ’Hood. Offered the opportunity to buy any kind of fireworks they like, folks rich and poor will do exactly that, and spend half the night blasting away with those and with their cannons.

The locals start shooting off fireworks and guns about 11:30. This goes on until they run out, around 1 a.m. The idiots out in the alley, right behind the house, are blasting away…but that’s alright because the racket is going on for miles around. At least it’s raining, cutting the fire risk out there. Gerardo sprayed the weeds behind my knucklehead neighbor’s house, but he didn’t cut them down, so there’s a swath of dried-out dead grass and brush out there. I’d hoped the rain might keep the ninnies inside in front of their televisions…but ohhhh no!

The racket scares the bedoodles out of Ruby, so there’s no chance of diving under the pillow and trying to sleep. She paces around anxiously, threatening to jump off the bed. Said sack has one of those stupid double-thick mattresses…I didn’t realize how ridiculous it was until they delivered it, at which point is was too late to do anything about that bad choice. It’s so high that if she jumps off, she will hurt herself, and then I’ll get to drive through the dark and the rain, dodging bullets, to take her to an emergency vet.

Time passes. Eventually she settles down.

3:30 a.m.: Dog pacing awakens the human. I imagine it’s Ruby, probably hearing another round of ordnance going off — the drunks don’t stop just because midnight happened three and a half hours ago.

“Go to sleep!” I growl. Dog pacing continues. Get up. Turn on the light.

It’s not Ruby, it’s Cassie, experiencing an embarrassing urgency. Lift her off the bed. Set her on a pee mat, hoping she’ll go there because it’s freaking cold and wet outside. While I search for my shoes, she squats on the pee mat and goes PHPHBHPPHFFFPPTTTT…. Doggie effing diarrhea. Then she waddles off the end of the pee mat and goes PHPHBHPPHFFFPPTTTT some more: all over the tiles.

Well, I should be glad that it is tilework and not damn carpet. And not on the bed. But I’m not THAT glad. I lose my temper. Swear the dog is going to have to go: I cannot be on my hands and knees scrubbing floors with disinfectant four, five, six times a day, 24 hours a day. This is no longer a viable arrangement.

Get another pee mat — running out, and I expect the Walmart will be closed tomorrow. Toss it on the floor.

She immediately waddles over and pisses all over it.

Get another pee mat. Tear it whilst shaking it open. To$$ that in the garbage.

Get out another one — now there’s only one or two left, and I’ve been putting down four or five a day. There are three on the bed, which I can take off and lay on the floor. That means both dogs will have to sleep on the floor tonight, which means they’ll be banging against the bed all night long. What the hell. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since Cassie got sick, along about the first of September. So it doesn’t much matter.

The damn burns on my wrist itch like fire, as does the rash. One of these burns is going to leave a perfectly hideous scar. On the positive side, the rash is going away, so I guess it must not be MRSA. That’s something. I guess.

Another blast of ordnance goes off — now almost 4 a.m. Sounds more like a shotgun than a cherry bomb. But the stuff they sell in the Albertson’s and Home Depot parking lots at this time of year really does sound like…artillery fire.

Ruby, terrorized again, tries to jump off the bed. Get up, lift the dog down to the floor, search for shoes so as to take that dog outside. No: by the time I find my shoes, she’s hiding behind the toilet. Call her: she stays put. I lose my temper.

Go in the other bathroom in search of lidocaine to smear some on the frantic itching.

Well, no…that stuff I squished out onto my arm is sun block. F***!!! Scrub off the wound and rashes. Apply lidocaine.

Dog comes out. Call her to let her out in the yard. She dives back under the toilet.

Well. Who can blame her? The human is visibly NOT a happy camper… and the bedroom now stinks enough to gag a skunk.

Speaking of the knucklehead, those two acquired another dog, apparently as a Christmas present. It’s a yapper. So now they put this animal out in their backyard and it stands there and BARKS. And barks and barks and barks and barks….  This causes their other dog to start yapping. Cassie is too sick to bark back…but Ruby isn’t. When she hears that mutt barking, she runs out there and joins the chorus.

Aw, geeez!

4:45 a.m.: A Hell’s Angel flies by on Gangbanger’s Way. DUDE! Get a muffler on that damn thing!

What the heck. The guy’s prob’ly so high on meth and booze he can’t hear it. Or couldn’t, if he weren’t already stone deaf. Or…heh…stoned deaf. 😀

Happy 2019 from Beautiful Uptown Phoenix!


Walmart Store: WhisperToMe [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons
Monks: By Francisofmconv – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,




December 31, 2018
by funny

Happy New Year! I think…

Cheers! It is cold on this New Year’s Day. It is raining. It is a day to hide in front of the idiot box and binge on old Cadfael shows.

Well. Okay.

It’s not really that cold: about 43 degrees on the back porch. Arizonans consider that akin to 30 below. But I suppose normal people have a different perspective on things.

That will put the eefus on the fireworks displays this year. Which is too bad. On the major firecracker-banging holidays, every resort, municipality, and public park shoots sparkly rockets into the sky, which makes for a really neat display — especially if you can get yourself into a high-rise or climb up the side of North Mountain, Camelback Mountain, or South Mountain.

But…it will also put the eefus, with any luck, on the ninnies who go out and shoot their guns at the stratosphere, and the idiots who stock up on the fireworks that by state law are legal to buy in the city but by city law illegal to set off here and who then roam up and down the alleys blasting the neighbors. They use the alleys as their firing grounds because they figure they can get out of there long before the cops show up…and they’re right. It’s 30 to 40 minutes before the police answer a 911 call here, if they bother to answer it at all.

Sooooo…you wonder why some of us wild-eyed liberals are in the “out of my dead hands” set? You take care of yourself here in the Wild West, or you don’t get taken care of. 😀 What a place!

Rain: not good when you have a sick dog. Cassie the Corgi is having an unusually difficult day. Just now she’s inert. She lays on her dog mat beside the computer, which is stuffed with old bed pillows and so not consistent in…puffiness. This padding inconsistency causes her to sink into an arroyo, which she can’t pull herself out of. So I have to lift her up and set her on her feet beside the dog bed, which gives her a coughing fit.

{sigh} I really need to put this dog down. But can’t bring myself to do it. Every time I work up enough courage to do her in, she has a “good” day: almost but not quite back to normal. Well. Far from it, but at least she doesn’t appear to be suffering on those “nearly normal” days, and she’s sort of up for ambling out to the back yard between depositing puddles and mounds on the floor. Poor beast.

News comes from NextDoor: missing autistic child. A seventeen-year-old, out in the rain and cold and unable even to tell anyone who he is or where he belongs. Two minutes later: Kid found. Thank heavens for small favors, hm?

Accomplished today…what? Uhm…

Well…I polished my toenails. That’s something. I guess.

They look pretty nice. Lots better color than the last paint job.

No dog walk: too cold, too wet.

Wouldn’t go into a grocery or drug store on a bet. Nothing done in the re-provisioning department.

Clean house? Too dark.

Wash clothes? Done.

Pick up wet dog mats? Continuous.

Write? Not so much.

All of these things failing. I guess I’d better get up and iron the clothes and table linens. And so, away…

Happy New Year!



December 29, 2018
by funny

Life at the Old-Folkerie…or is it the Ritz-Carlton?

So my friends from church, J & L, have sold the manse and are moving into a life-care facility called The Beatitudes.  J is thrilled at the idea (well, pleased, anyway), whilst L says it’s going to be like moving into a prison. Today they took me to lunch there, after we dropped off some loot at the new digs as part of the moving project.

The future of old age?

The Beatitudes has been around since long before “life-care communities” became a Thing. As long as I’ve lived here (and that has been a long time), it existed at its present site as a nursing home and warehouse for the elderly. As my generation has aged, we’ve become a gigantic communal cash cow, and so the present places are being massively upgraded as their management tries to keep up with newer resort-like living arrangements for the affluently agèd.

I’ve been interested in J & L’s experience, partly because sooner or later I’m going to have to figure out how to get myself cared for and partly because my two friends’ widely disparate views of the thing exactly reflect my conflicted thoughts on the matter.

As soon as my mother died, my father got himself into one of those places. This was in the mid-1970s. Run by the Baptist Church, it was called Orangewood; like other surviving first-generation independent living facilities, it has been massively remodeled — rebuilt would be the term — and now sports a new name. He was only 67.

Before my mother took ill, he proposed that they move to this Orangewood place, mostly because he preferred apartment living to having to take care of a house and yard. Life-care communities were a recent development at the time, and as soon as he learned about them, he thought it was a great idea. Horrified, she resisted. She died before that argument could go very far. So, off he went to Orangewood.

He apparently liked it. However, it’s important to note that having gone to sea all his adult life, he was well adapted to institutional living. (“Institutionalized” is the term that comes to mind…) He didn’t seem to care about regimentation or confining rules or living elbow-to-elbow with his fellow inmates. If anything, he seemed to relish it.

So okay, he moves into Orangewood. When my friend L says he thinks moving to the luxurious environs of The Beatitudes is going to be roughly the equivalent of moving into a prison, the Orangewood experience is where he’s coming from. In exchange for a great many amenities — some of which were true Godsends — Orangewood extracted obedience to some onerous conditions. For example…

  • Two meals were served each day: a light breakfast and a heavy mid-day meal. You were required to show up at one of them, so they could check on you to be sure you were still ambulating around. The food, we might add, was by and large dreadful.
  • For three rooms, one bathroom, and a nonfunctional kitchenette without even a full-size refrigerator, my father and Helen paid as much per month as my then-DH and I paid for 3000 square feet (five bedrooms, one of them converted into an entertainment room) on a third of an acre of prime North Central real estate.
  • You were supposed to use their doctor, an exploitive quack.
  • If you fell ill, you could be required to move (usually temporarily) into housing close to the on-campus nursing home, where you could be watched more carefully.
  • They, not you or your family, decided whether you would be moved into the on-campus nursing home.

But there were trade-offs that made these conditions not so onerous.

So… My father moves into a one-bedroom apartment that seems to suffice for him — bearing in mind that he had spent most of his adult life living in a ship’s cabin. It was certainly better than an SRO, an option he had more than half-seriously proposed. Shortly, Helen notices him and sets her sights on him. (Even in his late 60s, he was a handsome man.) Before the end of the year, they marry. They move together into a cramped two-bedroom apartment which to my taste would have been OK for one person. But that was what was made available to married couples. Since Helen clung to her worldly goods like a crab with prey in its claws, this place was, shall we say, cluttered.

But that was none of my business, even though it made my father crazy.

Every now and again, they would invite us to join them for the dinner-sized midday meal. I abominated this, because the food was truly awful: steam-table buffet gunk, most of it reconstituted from packages. I remember looking at it and wondering how can they justify feeding this stuff to elderly people with cardiac conditions? Every meal was high in starch and high in salt. Every dessert came out of a box. Equally wonder-making was how the inmates could bring themselves to eat it, day in and day out.

As far as I could tell, they apparently didn’t mind. I concluded that it was true people’s taste buds die in old age, and so they couldn’t tell the difference between industrial junk food and real food.

(In my own old age I have not found that to be true. Believe it or not, I can still taste food and I can still tell the difference between real food and fake food that comes out of a box or a can.)

But whatEVER: my father and Helen didn’t complain. Nor did they seem to be able to understand why we would always have something else to do when invited to dine with them.

To my mind, the place was dreadful: the apartment oppressive, the limited space cramped for one person and hideous for two, the food terrible, the Big-Brotherly oversight creepy, and the institutional conditions questionable. At one point a plague of food poisoning spread throughout the entire population — almost everyone was sick with severe diarrhea and vomiting. This, the inmates were assured, was a harmless and passing “stomach flu.” Which, I guess, was how the management spelled “someone in the kitchen failed to wash their hands.” Or worse.

The Beatitudes is much different — at least, the part I can see is. J & L’s high-ceilinged apartment, which is not exactly spacious but still is well laid out and has an astonishing view of the city and the Phoenix mountains, has two full bedrooms and bathrooms, and a full kitchen with plenty of cupboard space, a pantry closet, a full-size double-door refrigerator, a full-size stove and oven, a dishwasher.

You should see this place. It’s like moving into the freaking Ritz-Carlton!

My friends insist that no rule requires you to show up at any of the three eateries (two of which are pretty fancy). If you pleased, you could cook all of your own meals. We went to the informal joint for lunch — it’s a kind of bistro-like affair where you can get soups and salads and whatnot. Service is sit-down: food is delivered to your table. You do not bus your dishes.

Some of the food was pretty good. Not great, but reasonably good. I had a white bean chili that was edible enough. L had a sandwich of packaged cold cuts that looked revolting. J had a bowl of soup, about which she did not complain.

I think if I lived there I would fix most of my own meals in the apartment’s more than adequate kitchen. But those restaurants would always be there if you didn’t feel like being bothered.

Given that you can now order up groceries for delivery, you could stay pretty independent for a very long time in that place. If you were not required to eat in the restaurants (I think they may have to buy a certain number of meal tickets, but no rule says they have to use them) and if nobody was poking their nose into your business, it actually would be a reasonable way to address the vicissitudes of old age in a fragmented society.

It’s something to think about.

I do worry about what is going to happen if I live another 10 or 15 years. My friends are in their early to mid-90s. But even in your 80s, you certainly could find keeping up a big house and yard quite a challenge.

You could hire help…but…who’s to say what kind of help you’re going to find? My friends have a cleaning lady who comes in regularly. As the two contractors who are helping to move them to their new digs were hauling stuff out to their vehicle and mine today, we found most of the stuff we were picking up off the tables and cabinets hadn’t been dusted in weeks. This woman is apparently not dusting things like the lamps and the fake dieffenbachia and the pictures. If she’s not doing that, what else isn’t she doing?

An apartment is a lot less space to have to take care of than the Funny Farm. And quite the cottage industry is growing up around the aging of the Baby Boom. The institution down there on Glendale Avenue is only one manifestation: the other day I read about a woman who started a business driving elderly people around. She’s apparently doing quite well at it. And then we have the two women who are helping my friends pack up for the movers and organize where things should go in the new digs: helping elders move IS their business. They’ve made themselves known with a bunch of the old-folkeries like The Beatitudes — there are now quite a few of them in town — and they have as much work as they can handle. Sometimes more. Then there’s the guy who charges people to serve as a companion for exercise walks. Want someone to get you off your duff and into your walking shoes? Call this fella.

See what I mean? Given that this industry is developing, why not take advantage of it?

December 27, 2018
by funny

Singed and Frozen

In the “froze” department, it’s supposed to drop down to 33 degrees here this week. For the Valley of the We-Do-Mean Sun, that is very cold. Many of the ornamental plants would be damaged by that chill even if they were used to it…which they are not. We haven’t seen freezing or even near-freezing temperatures here in years.

Light and even hard frosts used to be pretty commonplace — at least a few crisp nights every winter. But that has gone away, thanks to the heat island effect and the climate warming that we’re so credibly assured doesn’t exist.

Tonight, though, it’s already freaking cold out there and it’s only 7:30. So it was out to the storage shed, there to unearth the dusty old drop cloths I once used as frost protection. Covered one of the bougainvillea with a couple of those. The other three will just have to get by. One on the west side is pretty well sheltered by the big paloverde, though Luis cut the tree back so drastically this spring that it may not provide much cover. The other one is more sandwiched between the back wall, a garage wall, the eaves, and a bunch of plants…it’s usually not harmed much. The one on the east side will freeze back, and there’s not much I can do about that. Even when I’ve covered it in the past, it’s managed to shrivel up.

Bougs, however, are resilient. In fact, they may even like freezing almost to the ground. The following spring they come back, especially if you trim off the dead stuff.

Things on the back porch that are really house plants in this climate…uhmmm….not so good. I did find a shop light and managed to clip it to a wooden chair next to the ficus on the back porch (Unless I remember to turn off the irrigation as dawn cracks, water will come on tomorrow morning and that will create a pool around the ficus’s pot. The woodwork should keep the electric light out of the water…unless it rains…). With the fiberglass panels off the top of the pergola out there, the back porch gets a lot colder than it did. So stuff that did not have to be covered in the past now…does. The ficus, though, grew ecstatically when it was moved and it was freed from the fiberglass roof. It’s now so huge there’s no way I can wrap it effectively with old sheets and curtains.

In the “singed” (as in hot) department: I inflicted a second-degree burn on a wrist a couple days ago, in a moment of stupidity. Oh well. Naturally, this was right before Christmas, when you can’t get in to see anyone for love nor money. A nurse at the Mayo, having quizzed me on the key issues, decided it was relatively minor and advised me to apply antibiotic cream (not ointment) and bandage it.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus Public Health Image Library (PHIL)

By this morning, the burn was beginning to heal, but now I had a crop of hives all over my hand and wrist. I figured — damn! — I must have developed an allergy to the stuff they make bandage stickum with. The Walgreen’s generic variety of these things was $2 cheaper than the Bandaid version — for a generous serving of seven bandages! So I’d bought the cheapo version. Maybe that wasn’t the best idea.

Or….hmmmm….  While this was going on, a fine (and very painful) boil sprang up on my face, next to the nose. I’ve had these before — they hurt, they look like hell, and then they go away. And I’ve had them on my hands and arms. But…so…what if these hive things are not hives but actually are some kind of infection along the same lines of said carbuncles? They don’t exactly hurt…they itch, suggesting hives. But I’ve never had an allergic reaction to bandage stuff or latex in my entire lengthy life. What if…what if…what if this is actually an infection, as usual on the eve of a major holiday, conveniently running up against a weekend…

So I call the new dermatologist. To my astonishment, they get me in to see a nurse practitioner TODAY!

She opines that the pimply bumps are probably hives. But then she notices the chronic irritation around my nose (where, interestingly, the giant zit/boil/whateverthefuckitis is now half-healed. She asked if I’ve ever had that treated. I say I’ve tried but no one has ever been able to do anything about it. No one seems to care that the outside of my nose itches all the time and the inside hurts all the time…I imagine everyone’s nose itches all the time.

She says she’d like to take some samples for lab tests. Why? Because she thinks it’s a staph infection, and she thinks it’s very possible the rash on the hand is the same thing: a staph infection. There’s an outside chance it’s a MRSA staphylococcus (a type of antibiotic-resistant bug). She writes a prescription for an ointment and says she’ll let me know the results. If she’s right, the gunk she’s prescribed will clear it up.

Well. That would be some kind of miracle. Over the years I’ve had the inside of my nose cauterized (now THAT hurt! for a good long time…and it didn’t work). I’ve tried gunk recommended by doctors (didn’t work). Have experimented with gunk of my own discovery (didn’t work). Have tried antihistamines (didn’t work).

As of this evening, I’d say at least a couple of the spots very definitely look like boils. Just what I need right next to a burn injury: a fulminating staph infection.

What have I done to offend the God of Israel?
Tell me God is not on Donald Trump’s side….

December 24, 2018
by funny

Merry Christmas…i guess

Christmas treeWelp, Merry Christmas one and all. Think some spiritual thoughts…that will take Herculean effort. (So we invoke one ancient culture’s religion when we see our own, as interpreted by its fundamentalists, has failed). Personally, I find it a shade difficult to choke up much merriness, given that we’re watching our country crash in flames.

Thank God I’m too old myself to be called into active military duty, or to have a kid young enough for that. The mess the Trumpites are making in the Middle East sooner or later will come back to bite in a big way, and at that time a mere force of mercenaries will not suffice. Expect to see your sons and daughters — or grandsons and grand-daughters — called up for active duty within the next decade. To say this bunch has plunged the country into chaos is, my friends, an understatement.

Or maybe we ourselves will want to join up, if the military will take us. God knows, we’ll need the money.

Watching what appears to be the start of the Bush Crash redux, I have exactly zero confidence that a collapse of this magnitude is going to do me any good in my enforced retirement. What I do feel confident of is that it will leave me with nothing like enough in savings and investments to support me through my dotage. It is almost certain, thanks to the lunatics who put a seditious fool in the White House and inflicted their set of wackshit discredited economic theories on us all, that I will not have enough to live on for the rest of my life.

During the 1970s, I watched my father’s savings — an amount he thought would support him comfortably through a lengthy retirement — melt away under an inflationary blowtorch. Now we get to watch my generation’s retirement savings disappear, too.


Oh well. There’s not a thing we can do about it. If you haven’t hunkered down yet, financially speaking, it’s too late now.

Remember what I told you, some time back: Politics is economy; economy, politics.

In one last gasp of optimism, tonight I’m singing with the choir for the evening service and then for the midnight service. That will be fun. The church tends to overflow on these big religious holidays. Though it’s not exactly empty the rest of the time, on Christmas and Easter people flow into the parking lots.

We — the women’s chant choir — sang for Compline last night. It’s a very short but very lovely service. The entire thing is sung, much of it in chant. It’s  relaxing and soothing, something that’s much needed these days.

In between the two Christmas Eve services, we have a potluck dinner. That should be fun. I’m hoping SDXB will show up for that and for the late service. Connie the Long-Haul Trucker is in Moab, headed toward the Valley as fast as she can fly for as far as the gummint will let her drive in any one 24-hour period: expects to reach the truckyard about 10 a.m. tomorrow. So she will miss the Xmas festivities, but will be here to see her family on Christmas day. That’s something. I guess.

Cassie the Corgi continues to have her ups and downs. Yesterday was a definite up. Today she seems to have crashed, along with the Trump economy. {sigh} Not only can she barely hobble around but (to continue the endlessly amusing simile) she seems confused. It’s like she’s not sure where she is. She’ll get outside and look around, appearing utterly flummoxed, like she’s wondering Where am I? What is this place and what am I supposed to be doing here? Eventually she’ll pee on the ground and then stumble back in the house, evidently only slightly enlightened.

That’s today. Yesterday she was downright peppy and for a moment was actually running around the backyard (very, very briefly) after Ruby.

So one is led on a merry psychological chase, in which one moment you think gosh! maybe she COULD recover somehow and the next you’re figuring where to dig her grave.

The neighborhood is brightly decorated. One street is completely lined with luminarias. Young people love to gussy up their places for Christmas, which is a delight. I personally am too lazy to feel inclined to climb on a ladder to hang up lights, then climb up again to take them down and then make myself crazy wrapping them back up and putting them away. Never have been much for conspicuous decoration, myself. But that doesn’t keep me from enjoying other people’s displays.

Luminarias line a garden path as part of Hispanic celebration of Christmas



December 23, 2018
by funny

The Holiday Dog Food Jamboree

So another of the many things you know, if you’ve been reading this site for long, is that one of my many eccentricities is a penchant for concocting home-made dog food for the hounds. This is not very hard to do, nor is it very hard to find out what should go into it, since a number of university veterinary programs and similar credible sources publish discussions of canine nutritional needs.

Vets, when they find out you do this, get very nervous: they define “people food” (a derisive term) as fast-food burgers and pizza. Naturally, anyone with half an ounce of sense does not define junk food as “people food” — or, come to think of it, even as “food.” No. The Funny Farm canids get a mix of something over a third high-quality meat protein, about a third mixed, ground vegetables (yes, Virginia: dogs are omnivores), and about a third starchy food known to be highly digestible dogs. Do not fear: dogs have been living with humans for something over 16,000 years, during which time they have been sharing the humans’ diet with no ill effect. Specially formulated magical “dog food” was invented and sold to a waiting world in the first third of the 20th century…to no great improvement in dog life expectancy.

So, okay. While Cassie has been struggling with her current life-threatening ailment, I became scared by the Veterinary Babble about DIY dog food. (Why this should scare me escapes common sense: it was, after all, MarvelVet’s ill-conceived scheme to convince me that the dog had Valley fever that made the poor beast sick unto death.) But that notwithstanding…during all this, I feared that maybe the home-brewed chow was inadequate, and consequently started feeding her exclusively FreshPet with a little canned food to top it by way of tricking her to swallow pills.

FreshPet is the stuff that comes in rolls. Read the ingredients and compare with other pet junkfood and you’ll see it comes closer than most of them to real food, and it’s available in several grocery stores, obviating yet another annoying trip and yet another stand in line in yet another annoying retail establishment. [If you like to scare yourself, read the ingredients on a can of Pedigree “chicken” dog food: makes a great Hallowe’en tale.]

This seemed to work OK. Cassie doesn’t care. She’s a corgi. Corgis will eat anything.

The dog survived many weeks of debilitating illness. She still lives, though not well.

A couple weeks ago, I took it into my feeble head to cook up some real food for the dogs. Why, I do not recall: probably to clean out the freezer.

Put a dish of this down in front of Cassie…and she inhales it with obvious joy. The other dog is jumping around in ecstasy, too.

Hm. Okay. They like real dog food. Apparently they like real dog food better than they fancy the factory-made gunk.

I did this on December 4.

Within a day — on December 5 — she was significantly improved: up to a 9 on a scale of 1 (moribund) to 10 (normal). Dayum!

She continued to have her ups and downs, but overall the trend from there on was upward. After an episode where she backslid to a 5 or 6, yesterday I would say she was as close to a 10 as she’s ever going to get. She was actually running around the backyard after Ruby.

That’s something, since this dog has barely been able to walk on occasion.

Will she recover her old self?

How do I doubt it? Let me count the ways. But it’s beginning to look like she may survive. And it’s even possible that most of the time she won’t be unthinkably miserable.

Here’s the problem with making dog food…well…one of the several problems: Holidays.





…a holiday comes along, you will run out of dog food. This means that to buy ingredients for the next batch, you will have to do battle with endless lines in grocery stores. That’s assuming you can find a grocery store that’s open.

Making dog food is a rather messy and time-consuming job, and really not what you feel like doing while you’re wrestling with holiday activities. And certainly not something you want to have to do under the time pressure posed by the holiday closure of the stores that carry the ingredients.

And yep. As is the case every year… Here we are, two days before Christmas, and we run out of dawg food.

So I spent half the afternoon in the kitchen, up to my elbows in chicken grease — the process was made much messier by my having stupidly purchased bone-in chicken thighs instead of Costco’s best boned, skinless things. With, we might add, a bandage that goes halfway up my forearm, having cleverly burnt the bejayzus out of myself yesterday.

We now have a giant pot of dog food.

The dogs eat about a pound of it a day.

This means we will run out…yes…right before New Year’s Day.


And that will mean yet another Costco run. Ugh. Amidst mobs of armchair sports fans stocking up with food and booze for the New Year’s Big Games.

As for now, though: it’s away to choir. Compline. You should try it sometime. You’ll like it.