Coffee heat rising

Struggling Along…

Wow! When they say the Land of Old Age ain’t for kids, they aren’t kidding! What a horror show the past few weeks have been.

And…no end seems to be in sight, except for the obvious one.

It’s not like gettin’ old isn’t bad enough in itself: you’re sick all the time, under siege from doctors who want to inflict treatments that are probably pointless, and the ordinary tasks of daily life come to feel like more than you can cope with.

And, speaking of “under siege,” you literally are under siege from every scam artist on the planet.

Apparently they figure that as your faculties fade, so does your skill at dodging crooks. And…they’re probably right. These lists appear to be pretty readily available to anyone who’s willing to pay a few bucks for them. There’s this, for example: for $325 cash on the barrelhead, any scammer on the planet can get access to phone numbers from some 52 million old folks. Conveniently organized by categories such as “pet owners,” “religion,” “gender,” “auto owners,” “new movers” — on and on and on — these things hand you over to the hustlers. No wonder the phone jangles every day!

I’ve had to block numbers from entire area codes. This is fine (sorta) when the area codes are in Los Angeles and waypoints, where I don’t know anyone and don’t do business. But the ba*tards spoof local area codes, trying to trick you into thinking their noxious advertising and scamming calls are from neighbors or local businesses. The Phoenix area, which prides itself in aping LA’s endless sprawl, has three area codes. Since I no longer work in the East Valley nor do I still have much of a social life, I’ve blocked two of them.

This prevents people in the East Valley and the West Valley from calling me. Only problem: my dermatologist’s office is on the west side and the Mayo is on the east side. Neither of these worthy outfits can reach me on the phone.

Same is true for certain friends who use only cell phones. One of my dearest friends has canceled her land line and uses only a cell phone…which has a banned area code. To get in touch, she has to email me.

I did try the strategy of BLASTING phone solicitors with the loudest, most eardrum-shattering noise you can come up with. Rather than carry an airhorn around the house all the time, I’ve found that SCREAMING into the phone as loud as you can, at the top of your voice, seems to get you on the pests’ do-not-call lists.

You shriek:


It does seem to work, at least to a degree. In the weeks since I’ve started this li’l strategy, the nuisance calls have dropped from eight or ten a day — starting as dawn cracks! — to maybe one or two.

And speaking of BLASTING….

M’jito is dragging me to the Mayo next Monday, pretty much over my dead body, to be subjected to an MRI of my brain.

This entails sticking you inside a metal tube and BLASTING EXTREMELY LOUD NOISE into your ears. It sounds absolutely unholy. Apparently some people completely freak out from this “exam,” a procedure for which the term “torture” sounds a lot more appropriate.

And it also seems to me to be utterly unnecessary. Why subject a person to a test to prove…what? That you can barely remember your name, after you’ve told the dear doctors repeatedly that you can barely remember your name?

Well. You and I have a fair idea of why. It’s spelled $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$….

I do not want to be subjected to this. But he has threatened to have me declared incompetent if I refuse to submit.

Whether he could actually get away with this is unknown to me. But what IS known is that if he tries it, he will end our relationship forever and aye.

Since I don’t relish being permanently alienated from him, I’m going along with the torture scheme. But if I’m right and nothing is wrong with my brain (!!!!!), this will be the LAST time I go along to get along when someone demands that I subject myself to anything I don’t want to be subjected to.

Airplanes are roaring away outside: r-r-r-r-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-u-m-b-le …hour after hour of it. Apparently it’s coming from Sky Harbor: they must have changed the morning flight patterns. What a racket!

My mother actually used to enjoy the sound of fighter jets practicing take-offs and landings at Luke Air Force Base. The locals in Sun City got blasted with that gawdawful racket every morning. She would sit on the back porch, serenaded as she had her first coffee of the day. “The sound of freedom,” she called it.

Uh huh. And coming from Sky Harbor, what we call it is “the sound of cash.”

It pretty much obviates the scheme to move to Fountain Hills. Planes flying into Sky Harbor at dinner time and out of Sky Harbor at breakfast time BLAST YOU OUT OF YOUR SEAT if you dare to sit on the back porch to enjoy your coffee. And the houses out there are built so flimsily, that they barely block the noise even if you stay inside with all the doors and windows shut.


And…speaking phones ringing at the crack of dawn: RINGY DINGY DINGY!

Pick up the phone, ready to blast the solicitor.

Nope: it’s the plumber. He’s sending his son over to dig up and repair the back yard’s leaking irrigation system.

Goodie. Nothing like a little chaos — preferably expensive chaos — to make your day.

The Californication of Urban Arizona

Wow! What an afternoon!

M’jito, my wonderful son, kindly took his whole day off work to schlep me out to the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, there to enjoy a whole series of annoying, time-consuming tests. This journey seriously did consume the entire day!

No kidding. An hour to drive out there. The whole damn day sitting around there, waiting, talking to people, being subjected to tests, sitting around waiting some more…on and on. Then OVER an hour to drive back into town through the unholy rush-hour traffic.

My GAWD!!! You have never seen such ungodly traffic as the legions westbound out of Scottsdale! Just a fukkin’ horror show!

Workin’-class folks here in the Valley of the We-Do-Mean-Sun by and large live in the West Valley. Decently paying businesses hold forth in the easterly and north-easterly regions: Scottsdale and the East Valley. Result: as in hideous Southern California, thousands of commuters trudge across the city over packed, hot, ugly freeways. And what a horrible evening drive that makes, starting along about 4:00 p.m.

At least it wasn’t unduly hot this afternoon. Another two months, and the drive would have been splendidly hellish.

Ohhh well. Now I’m home, and (since I’ve heard nothing to the contrary) he presumably is home.




And this is why I daydream of moving to Prescott or the Oro Valley. He daydreams of moving to Grand Junction, Colorado, where his eccentric paternal grandmother lived, as did her extraordinarily obnoxious husband until he ran off with a woman who could put up with his toxic personality.  Moi…I have too many negative memories of DXH’s dear mother (whose personality was not lacking in a degree of toxicity) to go back to that place — ever again — and M’jito knows that.

And I suspect that like me, he may regard one of the midsize towns/cities in Arizona as an acceptable substitute.

I would move to Prescott in a minute.

Same for Sedona.

Same for Oro Valley.

Some friends took off for Payson to spend their retirement in an extraordinarily beautiful home in the forest.

So…Payson? Maybe, only because my friends are up there. But probably not: it’s too small, too remote. You have to drive all the way down into the Valley to go to a decent doctor. Or to go to a Costco. Or to enjoy any sort of cultural event this side of a rodeo.

Truth to tell, if I had my preference, I’d probably move to Carefree (north of town: $$$$), Cave Creek (on the road to Carefeee: almost affordable), or Wickenburg (out in the desert west of town).

Or…or…San Francisco, by damn!

It’s 18 minutes after 5:00 p.m. here in the Funny Farm’s back yard. Helicopter after helicopter has flown over. The roar of passenger jets emanates from Sky Harbor airport, miles from here.

Ohhhh well. I can’t complain: At least I don’t have to deal with that unholy traffic morning and evening, five unholy days a week.

But…if I still had to work, you can be sure I wouldn’t live in Phoenix.

A Minor Miracle…and Another Nuisance

Apparently yesterday’s fall didn’t damage the arm any more than it was already damaged.

Et voilà! As we scribble, the phone jangles. Costco: the tires I bought yesterday are in. I must arrive at the northwest corner of the Valley to get them installed: 3:15.

Ohhhhhhhh goodie. Nothing like three hours’ notice for a nuisancey errand, eh?

Jeeeemineee, could I do without this stuff.

Matter of fact, I could do without about 95% of the details of Life in Early 21st-Century America.

Where were we?

Ah, yes: the busted paw.

Thought for sure I wuz gunna end up back at the Mayo yesterday afternoon. But incredibly, the tumble I took yesterday did NOTHING. Other than get me all riled up, that is.

That notwithstanding, just now the last thing I wanna do is spend two hours this afternoon driving through Phoenix’s unholy traffic and then twiddling my thumbs till Costco’s guys install two new tires. On the other hand, I can’t do without the tires. Both front tires are BALD. No kidding.

The rear tires look fine. Soooo….the question is, if I didn’t buy two rear tires (did I? Don’t recall, but my excellent neighbor, Mr. WonderAccountant went up to Costco with me a few weeks ago to get something done on that car. The something, I can’t remember…ain’t old age grand???), how come their tread looks practically new.

Life in the Wild West…as it were…

Welp, here we are, rounding out the first quarter of the 21st century in the (un)lovely Valley of the Sun.

It’s a nice city, a relatively safe one compared to some of the sootier venues spreading eastward across the country. But it’s still…a city. And…well…plus ça change….

Back in the dark ages, I used to walk home from school. In San Francisco, I could make about two-thirds the trip on foot or in a bus and a third in a streetcar. Either way, walking was safe and clean and an easy way to get back and forth without having to wait on and pay for the public bus.

Ah, nostalgia…

Today, I wouldn’t let a kid of mine walk to school here, not on a bet. Not even if it was the school three blocks to the west of us, right down the street.





Honestly, the schools seem to be under siege. Every time you turn around, here’s some new wacksh!t predator trying to snare a kid. Schools hire armed guards to patrol the place. Demented kids bring firearms and shoot up the school. Classes take place behind locked doors. And last week kids on their way to our neighborhood school had to step over a corpse on the sidewalk.

Makes home-schooling look good!


Here we are, a few hours later, after a raid on Costco’s tire shop and a trip hither and a trip thither and a goddamn car breakdown and a car repair and….yeah.

Mighty glad to get home, tha’ss all i can say!

See this?

This is why I shop at Costco.

Despite all the BS the general public is capable of delivering, Costco never gives you any BS.

Got something to whine about? Costco employees will listen patiently to your whining. If at all possible they’ll try to make the problem right. If they can’t, they’ll try to return your money to you.

Next week I’ll launch into battle with the Costco tire shop…not over anything so egregious, but still…

The thing is, I know they’ll listen to me. And I know they’ll do the best they can to make it right. If that costs Costco money, y’know what? It will MAKE more money for Costco, because every time they treat me like the Queen of England is a guarantee that I will be back, that I’ll buy more stuff there, that I’ll tell my friends how wonderful they are…on and on.

And that, we must allow, is amazing.


And speaking of amazing: it was back to the ‘Hood via Unlovely Sunnyslope, an alarming slum a few blocks north of the ‘Hood.

How would I like not to drive through there?

Lemme count the ways. And yet…no.

No, I’m not gonna add another 15+ minutes to the trip to weasel my way around Dank Slum North.

So: lock the car doors. Choose the route that probably moves the fastest and the smoothest at this time of day. Pray for the best.

God’lmighty this place gets more and more like Southern California by the day. Lordie, how can I remember Watts? Lemme count the ways….

Is Phoenix as bad as that?

Well…ahem! Certain areas surely are. My neighborhood is OK…but…but…. We’re about a mile south of a strikingly Watts-ish district. Would I live here if I could afford better?





But I can’t, very much as many Los Angelenos can’t. “Afford better,” that is. And so our taxes and our retail bills and the value of stuff people can steal from us sustains the dankness that is our neighborhood. Loverly.

So, so tired.

Beautiful evening…high cirrus clouds decorating the sky over North Mountain. Cool but not chilly. Birds cheeping. Wine pouring.

Soon I should get up  and take Ruby for a doggy walk.

At this rate, though, the walk is likely to be up the hall and onto the bed. 😀


Actually…we made it all the way around our usual route, about a mile.

Wouldn’tcha know it, on the homeward leg I tripped and fell. Bashed the sore left shoulder, bashed the previously OK hand.


ooooh well… C’est la vie.

Never an Effing Dull Moment

Lordie! I’m coming to hate this neighborhood.

Ten in the morning, give or take a bit. Cop copter has been circling over the ‘Hood for the better part of 45 minutes. He’s right over my old house: a block to the north and a block to the west of this one.


{Blogger wanders off}

{Blogger comes back}



Cops finally flew away. Shortly after I started this post, they roared down this way and took up a position over Josie’s house — SDXB’s former abode, one block to the north of the Funny Farm. They lurked around and lurked around and LURKED around, evidently searching for some perp. Or something.


A Whole Wasted Day?

Good grief! Someone say it ain’t so…

Yesterday I spent the whole damn day batting from pillar to post, trying to repair one of the antique lamps that grace the bedroom. It flickers after it’s been on for awhile, suggesting it needs some rewiring. No, a new light bulb doesn’t fix the problem.

One place, a hardware store that usually fixes stuff like this, said they couldn’t do it.

Schlepped across the city in search of another place: closed. Out of business!

Drove ALLLLLL the way back across the city and downtown to a third place. They charged me a pretty penny and apparently fixed it.

So I’m sitting here reading the Gnus of the Day when….flicker flicker flash flash!

The damn lamp is NOT fixed.

WTF, think I… Might it not be the lamp? What if the problem is not the lamp but the bulb?

Haul out of the sack. Change out the light bulb.

And what if the problem is not the lamp or the bulb, but the electric outlet?

Move the lamp so it can be plugged in to a different outlet.

Just this minute, the flickering has stopped. We shall see how long that lasts.

But if it does last, then (because of my over-eager machinations), we won’t know whether the issue was the outlet or the bulb, since the thing now has a new bulb in it.

Oh well. If it stops with its flickering trick, at least it will be fixed.

Yeah…leastwise. At the cost of a whole day of my priceless time.

Fortunately, now that I’m not working much, my time is without price. But driving through Phoenix’s gawdawful LA-style traffic is just unholy. While it was kinda fun to explore old precincts that I haven’t visited in years, this city really is a gawdawful place to drive. Public transit isn’t much of an option: it’s slow and you end up sitting elbow-to-elbow with some very creepy (and smelly) folks. So I didn’t much enjoy yesterday’s endless junket.


{minutes pass}


Now, neither light is flickering.


So…I wasted the whole goddamn day and a quarter-tank of gasoline and a fistful of dollars for…nothing? And I got ripped off by at least one local lamp merchant; probably two.