The young guys across the street, a bunch who personify the maxim that men never really shake off boyhood, are amusing themselves by riding around the neighborhood on the three-wheel motor-cart lash-ups they’ve found/built/customized. They are very funny, very silly, and highly amusing to watch. They have, bar none, the grandest time in all history with the things.
Old people never tire of watching young people be silly. 😀
We enjoyed a great deal of charming silliness last night, celebrating Thanksgiving dinner with my son’s friends’ families. They have children who attained a high pitch of excitement with lots of people and lots of food in the offing.
Our hosts have taken up residence in a new(ish) styrofoam-and-stucco tract north of Happy Valley Road, once regarded as halfway to Prescott but now just another suburb of Phoenix. The houses are tucked up into the low hills to the north of the city, which makes for a pleasant, deserty venue with easy access to hiking trails. The grade school their children attend offers Mandarin Chinese, which gives you a clue to the residents’ dominant social class. Upwardly mobile, we might guess. Homes are reasonably modest in design and lot size, very pleasant on the inside: all and all, a nice place to raise your kids.
If I were slightly more footloose, it’s an area I’d seriously consider moving to, by way of getting away from the blight and the noise. It’s certainly quieter and safer than the ’hood. On the other hand, I surely would not want to drive in and out on the freeway to go to choir. Twice a week! And since the choir forms the mainstay of my social life, I’m not inclined even to think twice about the possibility of moving to Whiteland. Can’t even imagine what I’d do with myself up there…
Prices are a lot higher, too. Think of it: $420,000 for this pleasant but nothing special house, elbow-to-elbow with the neighbors. Friends’ house is two stories, presumably (therefore) somewhat larger…but still: right on top of the neighbors, with the neighbors right on top of them.
Bum habitat or no, one thing you can say about an alley is that it keeps the neighbors behind you at arm’s length.
In my neighborhood, a comparable house (in square footage) would sell for about $350,000. Maybe $375,00. Over in Richistan (another half-mile from Conduit of Bight Blvd): $450,000 to $500,000, unless you were on a half-acre+ lot, in which case you’d be pushing $750,000.
Welp, speaking of Real Estate, I decided to spruce mine up. The wall on the east side of the lot, which faces a neighborhood street and takes the full blast of the morning-to-noonday sun, has been looking pretty decrepit. The beloved Bila the Bosnian Painter, having forgotten that I asked him (lo, these many years ago!) to paint that wall to match the house, was a bit blind-sided when I said, as he was finishing up, “But aren’t you gonna paint the wall?” So I think he diluted the paint he had left to spray it, sans base coat.
The result looked OK when it was fresh, but over the course of a year or two it deteriorated. It now looks amazingly bad.
The other day my son asked if someone had tagged the wall with graffiti.
The effect is compounded by the enthusiasm of cinderblock for soaking up water and dissolving in it… along the inside of the wall there’s a soaker hose, which keeps the cat’s-claw vines alive. The cat’s claw keeps my privacy alive.
The mortar has fallen out of the seam between the bottom and the second row of block, and what little paint Bila managed to spray on there has peeled off.
So today I scraped off the loose paint and filled the cracks with DAP. I’d planned to paint the wall, too, but what with the usual drive back and forth to the hardware store, the whole morning was soaked up by that chore. So I decided to put off the paint job, per se, til tomorrow.
The fill job ain’t great, but it’s probably better than nothing. DAP will take latex paint. I had to stuff so much of the gunk in there, I expect it’ll take more than a couple of hours for it to dry enough to justify slopping paint over it.
Tomorrow. Paint tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the cat barrier along the top of the wall looks pretty…uhm…eccentric. Along most of it, fortunately, the cat’s claw is growing across to hide it. But there’s a section where there’s really no way to hide the madness.
It’s not going, though. In the absence of an HOA, I can fight Other Daughter’s cat collection any way I choose: and securing a double row of carpet tack strips across the top of the wall works quite nicely.
That doesn’t mean I especially want to FLAUNT the double row of carpet tack strips.
Interestingly, there’s a whole bunch of old, unused dripper heads along that sunbaked strip. I don’t know if water still goes to them — they’re plugged off. But if it doesn’t, surely Gerardo can easily string new hose along there. I’m thinking what’s needed is either some cat’s claw growing on the outside of the wall (the inside is paved with brick and houses a tin shed), or maybe a Lady Banks rose or a bougainvillea.
This boug grows at the south end of the wall, where it’s generously protected from frost by a fierce Texas ebony tree…
The photo does the boug injustice. It’s a spectacular plant that causes passers-by to pause and comment on it.
I’m thinking…how about another boug?
Directly on the street, a bougainvillea is likely to freeze in the wintertime.
On the other hand, we haven’t had a hard frost in several years now. And it’s unlikely that we ever will again. Global warming has come to Phoenix, and it appears to be here to stay. Once it’s well established, a boug is pretty hardy.
On the other other hand, of course, it will try to take over Southern Arizona. It’ll have to be trimmed back from the sidewalk, lest I risk lawsuits. (Bougainvillea thorns are akin to tiger’s claws.)
But. It could be worth the risk. Gerardo seems to take a certain perverse pleasure in cutting back bougainvillea. I believe he hates it. One of these plants — to say nothing of two of them — would cover that wall within two or three years, hiding the top of the Satan’s hideous (but very useful) tin shed and also disguising my hideous (but very useful) cat barriers.
And it does discourage the bums from using that strip of the yard as their night toilet.
Another reason to delay the paint job: I’m still not quite over yesterday evening’s nervous breakdown.
When M’hijito and I arrived at my house after last night’s chivaree — there to retrieve his dog, brought to keep my dogs company — we opened the front door to find two big puddles of dog barf, right inside the door.
STINKING puddles of dog barf.
The entire house from one end to the other stank of dog shit!
To understand why this is a concern — as in “HOLY sh!t” — you have to understand something about dogs.
A dog is like a goat: it will eat anything. Alas, though, a dog does not have a goat’s intestinal fortitude. Many of the bizarre items dogs eat are given to creating intestinal blockage, just on the far side of the pylorus. When this happens, the dog can die within a matter of a short few hours. It is a veterinary emergency. A very, very, very expensive veterinary emergency. Symptom number one: throwing up barf containing fecal matter.
Well, of course, I’m freaking out. My son, who understands little about dogs, is trying to keep me calm by assuring me that I’m neurotic and crazy. This is not helping.
Because Cassie and Ruby snack on raw carrots (a potential blockage-builder, come to think of it) and the puddles contained pieces of carrot, we knew the Barfer was not Charley. My son went off into the darkness with his dog, leaving me to deal with a house that smelled like a Tunisian toilet and a pair of dogs one of which may have been pounding on Death’s door.
Neither dog had a tight, distended, or obviously painful belly, and neither dog was behaving strangely. So I decided to take a chance, delay bankruptcy, and refrain from rushing them to the emergency veterinary. But as you can imagine, it was a stressful night which left me, by the light of dawn, cranky, unhappy, and on edge.
The dogs are fine today.
And it eventually occurred to me why the puddles of barf were redolent of the parfum de dog sh!t. Ruby still occasionally indulges her puppy fondness for coprophagia. She probably scarfed down some little treats in the back yard.
Yes. This, in addition to the possibility of potentially terminal intestinal blockage, is another reason that dog barf can smell…uhm…a lot like a Tunisian toilet.
It being Black Friday, every moron and every fruitcake was out on the road this morning, charging around in hopes of saving a few bucks here and a few bucks there. Under the best of circumstances, they all get in front of me. But today, getting to the Home Depot and then later to the TruValue was a horror show. Never saw so many morons concentrated in one place in my life.
Lest you think I exaggerate, Phoenix was recently congratulated as the home of some of the worst driving in the country. We do not take an honor like this lightly. We are, however, disappointed to come in at eighth place. We will, in future, try harder…