Funny about Money

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

Thanksgiving Weekend…only moderately lazy

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.

Oh well.

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…

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Author: funny

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  1. On the subject of traffic…first… congratulations….I have been told Phoenix traffic is something else. I had the “pleasure” of seeing how it really feels to sit in traffic on Wednesday. I went to the other side of town via our Beltway to pick up a “gently used” Panasonic TV that I found on Craigslist …for FREE. Found the place OK, met a great fella, secured the TV in my truck and went to head home….And immediately got bogged down in traffic. The 45 minute ride home took me 2 hours and 15 minutes. For the life of me I don’t know how folks can do “the Beltway Madness” 5/6 days a week…It has to take years off one’s life! Glad the pooches are OK…

    • Oh, UGH that sounds awful! Too bad you couldn’t at least have plugged the TV into the car battery and watched a few shows whilst wasting your time.

      I can’t even imagine having to commute through that every day. Fortunately during most of my working life, except for the last 5 years, I was able to arrange my working hours at odd times, so as to miss the worst of the rush hours.

      Drivers here are just flat out bat-sh!t crazy. Even when they’re trying to be courteous, they’re crazy. This afternoon not one but TWO of them enthusiastically motioned to me to cross a lane while they waited even thought they had the right of way…beckoning me to drive RIGHT OUT IN FRONT OF AN ONCOMING RAM 1500! Two Ram 1500s, that is. One each on different occasions. One of them was a very handsome candy-apple red Ram 1500…somehow I suspect its owner would not have been pleased….

      If they are stupid, they get in front of you.
      If they are confused, they get in front of you.
      If they haven’t the vaguest, faintest, even most far-fetched idea of where they’re going, they get in front of you.
      If they are in no hurry, they get in front of you.
      If they decide to stop in the middle of traffic because they think they should have turned right a block ago, they get in front of you.
      If they decide to turn left from the right-hand lane, they get in front of you.
      If they do not understand or refuse to believe that in Arizona when you turn left at a signal you’re supposed to pull into the intersection on the green (without turning your front wheels into the oncoming traffic) so that the car behind you can get into the intersection on the green, and then wait to turn until the traffic clears or the signal turns so that two cars can get through, they get in front of you.
      If they sense you’re in a hurry, they pull in front of you in the fast lane and slow down.
      If they think you want a parking spot, they get in front of you.
      If they think you don’t want that parking spot but wish to move on, they get in front of you.
      If they are morons, they get in front of you.
      If they are psychotic, they get in front of you.
      If they can’t see the road, they get in front of you.
      If they’re texting, they get in front of you.
      If they’re eating their lunch, they get in front of you.
      If they forgot their purse and decide to make a swift U-turn, they get in front of you.
      If they stop for jay-walkers, they get in front of you.
      If they are a jay-walker, they try to get in front of you (until they realize that could cause them to die).

      All of them. Every one of them. They. All. Get. In. Front. Of. You.

  2. OMG, I can’t even imagine how awful that must have been to see, smell and clean up! You are a better woman than me, I don’t have much patience these days and it’s just as well that I currently have no pets. I literally don’t have the time and energy to deal with things like that and as stressed as I am over finances, school, and this dump I live in (half the electrical outlets stopped working last Sat.), I’m afraid of what I might do in response to such a mess.

    • {chortle!} There’s ‘s not much you CAN do other than run for the paper towels and the Simple Green as fast as you can go! 😀

      Uliimately I realized that

      a) I can’t afford $1500 to $2000 worth of gastric & intestinal tests on each of two dogs (or even on one of one dog…); and
      b) even if I did go ahead and schlep them to the emergency vet and they discovered one of the dogs did have a blockage, I surely could not afford $3000-$4000 in surgery. In that event my response would have been to have her put to sleep.

      Either way, if one of the dogs was in that predicament, I would have lost the dog. Thus there was no point in springing for the breath-taking costs of testing the dogs, because tested or not, one of them was going to die. So the best course of action was simply to watch them closely. If one of them started to show signs of distress, then I would have taken her to my regular vet first thing in the morning and asked him to put her down.

      As you can imagine, this made for a middling distressing night… 😮

      Electrical outlets. Ah, fun with homeownership! It sounds like something threw a breaker switch. Did you get it fixed?

  3. I rent an apartment in the Governor’s Mansion district and I thought I lucked out when I was told about this place. HA! This building stood empty for 12 years, then was bought by slumlords who did a very cheap, shoddy job of renovation. Because I’m only working part-time and going to school, I can’t afford to move out until I can find full time work. Who knows when that’s happening.
    I keep calling property management and keep hearing that “he’ll be out there tomorrow.” Every. damn. time. something stops working around here, it takes forever to get it fixed and only after I keep asking them to do it.
    I didn’t have cable for my internet connection when I first moved in two years ago this month. Took them 4 months to have the cable wiring re-done. The cable wiring was cut to make room for the electrical re-wiring and the owners claim they didn’t know about it until tenants began complaining.
    At least I’m starting a new part-time job on Sunday that pays better than my current one. First time I’ve ever really been poor and it sucks. Big time.

    • Gaaah! Starving Studentdom: a rite of passage to look back on some day. Waayyy back on….

      You need a tenants’ organization in that place. Also, check to see if the city has a tenant-landlord program, office, representative, whatever. Certain conditions generally have to be met for a structure to be considered livable…think those vary by municipality or county, but most cities do have SOME standards that landlords have to abide by.

      Which doesn’t mean they necessarily can or will make the landlord abide by them. There’s one dump here — along Conduit of Blight, naturally — where the air conditioning system was nonfunctioning for months. In 115-degree heat, that’s illegal and breaks the lease. Tenants can move out. I guess a lot didn’t — probably because they can’t afford it — so a bunch of people were living in this dump, in low-desert heat, all summer.

      Have you thought about offering to house-sit for faculty on sabbatical? Some sabbaticals are for the full academic year…at the least, they’re for a semester. You get them to pay you to stay in the house…or, out of the generosity of your heart, you stay in the house and take care of things for “free.” Heh.

  4. Thanks for the tip to report the landlords, another friend suggested the same thing. Case is, can the organization actually do anything? I guess I can find out.
    As for house-sitting for faculty, this is my last semester, I’m done after Dec. 12th. Besides, what would I do with my stuff? Can’t afford to store it and already got rid of 1/4 of my possessions when I moved two years ago. I need a bleeping full time job, THAT would solve my problems. ;o)
    This same friend told me recently that I “overreacted” to the loss of the electrical outlets. Well, of course, he doesn’t live here and doesn’t have to put up with this shiggety. I’d say my reaction was pretty damn normal.

    • Overreacted? Hee heeeeeee! He DOES understand you’re PAYING for an apartment that has functioning electric, plumbing, and heating, right? I personally find it difficult not to “overreact” to getting ripped off…

      With the end of school in sight, it sounds like the coveted f/t job is around the corner, too. Does your school have a career service for graduates? It may not be too early to start getting the resume out there…

  5. Pulaski Tech have a career service for grads? Hahahahahahaha! No, I’m on my own. A couple of teachers have offered to be references. I need to get in touch with some former co-workers for leads/advice. Wish me luck.
    Off to work now. Catchya later.

  6. Yikes! I can understand being freaked out about the dogs. Mine woke me up very early one morning with the sound of her vomiting on the tile floor in the bathroom. When I saw it had blood in it, I freaked out and called the emergency vet. They kindly suggested that I just watch her until the regular vet opened, so that’s what I did. She checked out OK; the blood was likely caused by her bursting a small vessel from the strain of vomiting.

    Last Thanksgiving evening around 11 PM I was driving past the local Outlet mall and saw that the parking lot was full. I don’t get the craziness of shopping on Thanksgiving evening and Black Friday. Ugh.