Coffee heat rising

Ups and Downs…or…Downs and Ups?

April 13 (I think)

Cox is down. Therefore the fake landline is down. And therefore (I guess…) for reasons unknown my computer can’t connect to the Internet.

Actually, if my vague understanding of these techno-issues is sorta correct, the “land line” is no longer a real land line, but just another ethereal connection to the wispy Internet. Meaning, therefore, that when the Web goes down, I can’t make a call out of the house for love nor money.

911? Ay señora! Not a faawwckeeng chance!

I could in theory use the iPhone my son gave me to do that…if I could figure out how. Unfortunately, when he gave me the phone, he refused to teach me how to use it. The plague came up right at that time, and so the iPhone classes up at the local senior citizens’ center were closed. And no, they’ve never reinstated those classes.

Yes, I did try taking a class at the Apple store. They plopped a half-dozen little old ladies – myself included – in the middle of the sales floor and set some poor woman in front of us to lecture us on how to work the damn things. You couldn’t hear her talking for love nor money…and no, I do NOT have a hearing problem.

Hmmmm…. Looks like we may be up again. Let’s try copying and pasting this over to a FaM post…


Nope. It was up for a few minutes – seconds? – and is now nonfunctional again.

Hmmmmmm…. This thing is 95% charged. Let’s try hauling it down to the AJ’s… order up an iced coffee, park in the outdoor café….and try to see if it’ll work down there.


Nope. Decided I didn’t wanna drive through the afternoon rush-hour traffic. Ugh!

The back porch, despite its crying need for a clean-up job, is a lot more pleasant than AJ’s front patio. By far.

Ohhhh how I miss The Little Guy. 😀 That’s what SDXB used to call the proprietor of the coffeeshop we used to habituate, across the parking lot from the Walmart up on Gangbanger’s Way.

The backyard is no longer as pleasant for just hangin’ out as it used to be.

The kids — new(ish) inhabitants of my (former) neighbor Sally’s house — either haven’t the money or haven’t the sense to fix their roof-top air conditioner NOW, before it craps out. From the racket it’s making, it sounds like that eventuality will occur sooner than later. Rattle rattle rattle groan GASP.


And speaking of rackets (real and metaphorical), there’s the Cop Copter, flying around in circles directly to the south of us. C’mon, guys…kindly don’t chase the boys up in our direction…

Nope: looks like they’re going away.

M’Jiito and I get into an argument every time we try to have a conversation. That’s not helping things.


In other sylvan realms, HOLY GOD am I glad I no longer live in Saudi Arabia!

We knew that sooner or later the hatred between the Arabs and the Jews would come to this (and worse: just you watch!). Outside of camp, on the way to Dhahran you’d pass a big billboard that read AMERICANS GO HOME! In Arabic, so much of the dependents didn’t really register it.

What a horrible place for a foreigner to reside. We should, all of us, exit stage right and let the Arabs figure out for themselves how to extract their berjillions of gallons of oil, how to build refineries and turn it into salable stuff, how to build and operate ocean-going tankers to send it off to buyers.

More to the point: We need to free ourselves of dependence on people who hate us.

Solar power, folks. That’s what’s needed.

Far, far more than the average American realizes.

Most people seem to register that a functioning solar power grid would free America from a lot of problems, present and future. What they don’t seem to recognize is how soon we need to get that functioning and how urgently we need it.

Like…right now!

Whither the Hereafter?

So. I need to decide where I want to be interred, with what amount and kind of rigamarole (if any), and how much it’s gonna cost.

So? To start with, Decision #1 = whether I’ll be displayed in the same mausoleum where my parents are, or whether I’ll ask to be buried in the Close down at the beloved church.


I’m afraid there’s a BIG reason I don’t want to be deposited next to my parents. It’s called “Helen,” the dear soul my father married after my mother died.

My mother had not wanted to move into Orangewood, the life-care community that he had decided was a grand (and, more to the point: safe) place for them to spend the last few years of their lives. To her, it looked like a nursing home. And it was, largely, in that most of the inmates declined into decrepitude over time and ended up in the depressing long-term care wing. She viewed that with horror and refused to go.

So he managed to put it off until she came down with the cancer that killed her, thanks to the ministrations of the tobacco industry.

This meant he had to care for her in their home during her horrible last days, until she finally got so sick their insurance would cover her care in a medical facility. At that point, he transferred her to a nursing home in central Phoenix, not far from where DXH and I were living.

After she died, he couldn’t bring himself to stay in the little house in Sun City. For understandable reasons: the memories associated with it would have been hideous. Plus by then he was simply exhausted, and caring for a house and a yard must have been more than he could contemplate.

So: a few months later, off he went to Orangewood, It was, in fact, within walking distance of my home — whether I was still living with DXH or even whether I was living here in the ‘Hood, whence I’d moved when DXH and I divorced.

Even as he passed through his 70s, he was still a good-looking man: tall, dark, and yep: very handsome.

The minute he walked into Orangewood’s dining room, the Dragon Lady spotted him…and closed in.

Within weeks they were an Item. Within a few months, they were sitting in our living room telling me and my then-husband they wanted to get married.


If I’d had any sense (most assuredly I did not!) I would’ve said, “Daddy! Slow down! Wait for six months, ideally a year, and then decide if you want to get married.”

If he’d done that, he would have escaped a gigantic sh!tload of grief and misery.

But ohhhh no! I was way, way too stupid to come up with that.

Didn’t take long after the ceremony and the conjoining of living spaces for him to understand this was a fully miserable arrangement.

Damn it! If he’d just waited six months, he would’ve realized don’t do that! But he didn’t know any better. I didn’t know any better. And so the mean and nasty Helen snabbed him.

The result: month on month of dead-end misery.

He would do things like telling her he was taking the car to the Ford dealership to be serviced; then go sit in the parking lot and smoke in silence and peace all afternoon. (She wouldn’t allow him to smoke in the apartment.) If that was better than loafing in his recliner in front of his television…well, it gives you some idea of what married life must have been with that harridan.

Seriously: she was one of the meanest people I’ve ever met. Quite possibly the single meanest person.

Before long, I simply refused to be in the same place where she was. So he got to fend her off all by himself.

Why didn’t he divorce her?

Because, said he, she’ll get all my money!

Why was I too stupid to say to him, Daddy, you have access to the most powerful lawyers in the state, maybe even in the Southwest, through my husband? I dunno. It WAS stupid. It would have helped if the then-Dear Husband had suggested some such thing.

So life went on. So life finally ended.

He was interred, according to his agreement with the Sun City mausoleum where my mother’s cremains were parked, next to my mother’s urn of ashes.


Time passes. The Wicked Bitch of the West passes on to her own furry fathers. I don’t know much about this, because I haven’t stayed current with those people, because I don’t like them, I don’t like their extreme right-wing politics, and they don’t like me. Or my husband, the chair of the state board of the (horrors!) American Civil Liberties Union and a member of national board of that fine, seditious organization.

More time passes.

And now we’re drawing nigh unto time for me to go. I’m thinking I’d like to be put to rest with my parents, much as I detested Sun City (the Home of the White and the Bigoted). So I start to explore around, and…


…and I discover the relatives have deposited the ashes of the Horrible Helen next to my father’s and my mother’s!

Holeee sheee-ut!

So. Now I’m thinking, a bit frantically, sorry, Daddy, but I am NOT going to be interred next to that hideous woman!


What to do, what to do???

Some checking around reveals that apparently it’s going to cost some enormous amount of money to get myself deposited in the church’s close. And…hang onto your hat: that transferring my parents’ cremains over there — just piles of ashes in ceramic urns — will cost FIFTEEN HUNDRED BUCKS APIECE!

Holeeeee shee-ut.

So I don’t know what to do.

I can’t afford to spend three thousand dollars — before I even arrange for my own disposal! — to move my mother and father’s remains over to the church.

But forgodsake!!!!!!!!  How CAN I say how much it irks me that my poor father and my beloved mother are deposited next to that horrid, horrid woman, the woman who made the last few years of my father’s life utterly miserable?


I’m thinking that, whenever I catch my breath and compose myself, I may betake myself to the Sun City mausoleum and ask if my parents and I could please be deposited together in one place.

Is that stupid, is that pointless? Or is that stupid and pointless?

I know it doesn’t matter. I know once we’re dead, none of us is gonna know from nothing. So, for pity’s sake, why do I care?

But for reasons I cannot grasp, I do care.

It’s the principle of the thing, I guess.

Coulda Shoulda Woulda

Victoria Hay, Ph.D.
Retired academic; owner of The Copyeditor’s Desk, Inc.

Profile photo for Victoria HayThe Ph.D. may (or may not) be worth pursuing…if you have an independent source of income.

You need a working spouse or an inheritance to keep a roof over your head and food on your table while you’re “pursuing” the Ph.D. Otherwise, you’re certainly not going to be “productive” or generate “output” from your research, because you’ll be too busy working two full-time jobs: one to support yourself and one to generate credit toward the doctorate.

Would I do it again?

Huh…let’s think about that…

  • I got a great job at Arizona Highways Magazine after I’d finished the degree. But that was only because the boss was impressed with academics. For him, it was a grand ego trip to have a someone with a doctorate on his staff. The job I landed was in journalism; it had nothing to do with academia.

Most employers are not that easily flamboozled.

  • I got a nice ego trip of my own when my dissertation was picked up by a prestigious publishing house. Does it matter that I’ve never seen a penny from sales on that book? Meh! Probably not: again, because the flamboozled boss thought that publisher was so awesome that he wanted to hire me.
  • Eventually, I got three books published through respectable presses.

All very nice…except I’ve never seen a penny in royalties from two of those books.

  • Later in life, I got an academic job.


One of my academic colleagues and I did a little pragmatic research and discovered we would be earning more cleaning house for a living than the university was paying us at the associate professor level. In fact, we seriously considered going in together to start a house-cleaning business.

  • Would I do it again?

Hmmmm…. Probably not.

If I had gone whole hog into magazine publishing starting the minute I finished the bachelor’s degree, I would have had more fun in life; I would have had a lot more people reading my published words; I would have been paid a helluva lot more than I earned in academia; and I would never have been tempted to think about starting an enterprise as a cleaning lady.

Stuff Happens…and Doesn’t Happen…

LOL! Especially doesn’t happen. Mostly because when you’re old as the hills you forget how long ago it was that you watered the hills. 😀

Seriously. I cannot remember ANYTHING, and when I do remember something, I can’t remember where I put it.

I thought I’d bought coffee the last time I trekked down to AJ’s.

Nice thought. Wrong, tho — so it appears. I can NOT find a bag of coffee beans anywhere in the Funny Farm, not to save my life. Usually it goes in the freezer….but nope. Not there. Not in the big storage freezer in the back room. Not in the refrigerator. Not in the kitchen storage cabinet.


So whenever I finish this cup of tea, I’ve gotta get off my duff and traipse down to AJ’s again, to stock up on coffee.

The thing is…I’m pretty damn sure I bought coffee the last time I was there. It was on the shopping list, which remains on its whiteboard attached to the garage door. If I’d utterly blown it off, I think I would’ve noticed. Only thing I can imagine is maybe I left it in the shopping cart when I went to unload the groceries into the car.

Senility…what a trip!

The Fate of Prognostication….

LOL! Today I zipped out to the credit union to check on some small detail…and then ended up driving…and driving…and driving…and driv… Ugh! Driving around this city is a species of Hell, and today was no better than usual.

But roaming up and down the homicidal streets of Phoenix generated some time to think about…this, that, and the other. Among the thisses and the thats:

Back in the Dark Ages, my mother made a sober-sided prognostication:

When the price of gasoline reaches a dollar a gallon, we’ll have

LOL! Hilariously, she was dead serious about this.

Today I went into a gas station and paid over $4.00 a gallon.

Life in the Republic of Marx, eh?

That was pretty much today’s going rate, by the way. For ordinary regular gasoline, nothin’ fancy to run your hotrod.

Well. Of course she was right: We do have s-o-o-o-cialism now.

Medicare works as socialized medicine for elders and for certain other classes of American citizens. And people on welfare — at least in these parts — do get some access to cut-rate medical care. And food stamps. And rent assistance. And…whatnot.

Be scared. Be very scared…



Plus ça change…

Actually, in some parts things don’t change. In specific: humanity doesn’t change.

So…I have a friend — more like a casual acquaintance, but a person whose company I value. We met some years ago through a business networking group. This outfit used to convene for a monthly business meeting out in Scottsdale. Eventually, for reasons I don’t recall, they stopped meeting at our regular restaurant at Scottsdale Road and Lincoln drive and began to meet further south, almost to Tempe.

The original venue was a helluva drive from my house; this new place was just too damn far. So I kinda stopped going there. Occasionally I would traipse across the city, but I wouldn’t go to every meeting. And eventually, I really did quit attending altogether. It was too bad, because I enjoyed socializing with these folks, and as time passed it had become the main way I was getting any regular contact with other people.

But…che sera sera, eh?

At one point recently, this gentleman announced that he was going to move from his longtime digs in the East Valley to a place in Sun City, on the west side.

I cringed.

Casa nostra…updated. They enclosed the screened porch and added that nice patio.

First off, I’ve lived in Sun City. The reason I’m in Arizona is that my father dragged my mother and me from Southern California to Sun City in about 1962. The man wanted more than life to retire, and an opportunity presented itself: in high school I was a hotshot student, and the University of Arizona offered to accept me for admission at the end of my junior year — in 1962.

Well. Everyone was all very thrilled. I was beside myself with joy to get out of a year’s worth of brain-banging boring high-school classes — and to be able to flounce around bragging about how smart I was. My mother was delighted to get her husband back full-time. And my father couldn’t have been happier at the the prospect of quitting work a year early.

So. We moved out there. I went down to the University of Arizona in Tucson while my parents took up residence in a two-bedroom place in Sun City (much modernized in these photos) beneath the flight path of the fighter jets practicing out of Luke Air Force Base.

My father didn’t understand money, and he didn’t understand that he hadn’t yet accumulated enough to safely retire. One recession and he was done in: within a year he had to go back to sea. My mother and I stayed in that awful place while he wrestled and fought to earn back his decimated retirement savings. It was a horrid time for him, and a difficult time for my mother and me.

As much for me as for anyone else: young people were not welcome in that place. And even if you weren’t made to feel like you smelled bad, it was a boring, tedious place to live, row on row of ticky-tacky tract houses designed for people who never intended to spend 12 months a year there.

The instant I graduated from college, I grabbed a low-paying receptionist’s job and moved into a tiny studio apartment in mid-town Phoenix. Far from ideal…but at least it wasn’t in Sun City.


So. When my friend said he was going to move out there, my first thought was ohhhh gawd!

The salient point you need to be aware of is that my friend is Black.

Yes. A single Black man, probably around 50 or 55, moving out to Whiteyville.

I should have explained to him, in so many words, what he was getting himself into. But I didn’t…it didn’t feel like remarks on one’s racial status were any of my business.


If a 17-year-old white kid was not welcome out there, a middle-aged black man was even less welcome.

He lasted about…what? Four months or so. Couple weeks ago, he sent out an email announcing that he’s moving back to the East Valley. He didn’t feel comfortable in lovely Sun City.

Yeah. I’ll bet he didn’t.


So, in the meantime…. Now I’m old and I’m teetering on the edge of the grave.

No, I’m not gonna die very soon — at least, probably not. But it is time, as they say, to “make arrangements.”

Both of my parents had themselves reduced to ashes, dumped into urns, and stashed in a mausoleum in Sun City. If I were a decent human being and an appropriately loving daughter, I would join them there.

But y’know what? I don’t want to.


I do not want to spend eternity in a vase gathering dust in Sun City.

Parents or no parents.

To frost that cookie, a couple days ago I discovered my father’s horrid third wife’s family had put that dreadful woman’s ashes out in Sun City, next to his ashes.

Yeah. That mean, evil, nasty b*tch is taking up space on a shelf next to my mother and my father.


Without this latest development, I probably would just have let it go. Complain not, and arrange to have myself reduced to a few cups of ashes and set on a shelf next to those two.


I’m sorry. But no. There is no way in Hell I’m going to allow myself to be interred next to that horrid creature. In fact, if I could see how to do it, I would get my parents’ urns moved somewhere else. Real fast.

The problem is…

Ohhh yes: does every issue not have a problem?

The problem is that my father deeply, passionately hated organized religion. This state of mind came about when his mother, a Chocktaw Indian woman, was scammed out of what today would be at least a million dollars — by nut cases who persuaded her that they could talk to the dead. Her father, a white buffalo hunter, had participated in the extirpation of the herds of buffalo roaming Oklahoma and Texas, in the process accruing quite a large pile of money.

After he died, she inherited this pile of cash. And the scam artists descended on her. Long story short: pretending to be able to talk to the dead, they scammed her out of every penny, leaving her and her sons without a nickel or a dime… My father, who was just a kid at this time, associated the theft with churches. In his mind, all religions are scams — especially the organized Christian varieties.

So…you see the problem? If I were to go out to Sun City and remove their ashes from the mausoleum out there, tote them down to my Episcopal church, fork over a handsome donation, and have them stashed there, it would be an incredibly disrespectful act.

Disrespectful of my father’s experience, of his decision to put himself and my mother in the Sun City mausoleum…of…whatever.

But speaking of disrespectful, that AWFUL woman he married after my mother died is out there on the same damn shelf.

That, in my opinion, is damn disrespectful of me. And of my mother.

One thing is for sure: My ashes are NOT gonna sit on a shelf anywhere near that harridan’s ashes.


So. Now — right now — I need to figure out what, if anything, to do about my own impending demise. And what, if anything, to do about my parents’ cremains.

My stepsister is dead, so if I were to remove my father from her honored mother’s side, she would have no clue. No offense to be offered there, assuming people cannot view what happens here on earth from their platforms on the Other Side.  On the other hand, her daughter survives. I don’t know if that young woman ever traipses out to the far west side to commune with her mother’s ashes…but if she does, it would be pretty sad to remove my father’s ashes from her mother’s crypt. For that matter, I don’t even know if the woman’s ashes are out there with my father.

I didn’t get along with those people — they were extreme right-wingers, and they thought I was a seditious Commie. Plus the young woman in question has her own life and has not spoken to me since long before my father died.

So…should I feel any compunction about snabbing my father’s ashes — if I can do so at all — and spiriting them away to the church close?

This is what I would like to do: Go out to Sun City, demand that the mortuary hand over my mother’s and my father’s ashes, bring them back to Phoenix, and arrange to inter them at my church.

* I don’t know whether I can do that, since I’m not the one who arranged their interment and I’m not the one who paid for it.

* My mother would love it, but my father would shimmer in his funeral urn through the rest of Eternity: he hated churches; he hated organized religion.

* God only knows how much it would cost.

Do I want to spend my son’s inheritance — any part of it — on juggling urns filled with ashes? The ashes of people he barely remembers? Hell, my mother died before he was born. When I told her I was pregnant with him, her response was to shrug her shoulders and go “Meh!”  So…do I even care whether their ashes occupy space near mine?

Possibly not…

I do know — well, I think I know — that I would like to have my pile of ashes stashed down at my church, not out in horrid Sun City. But…I have no idea how much that would cost or what would be involved in arranging it. Next week I’ll be speaking with the woman who runs the operation at the church, and so…soon I’ll know whether this is something I can afford.

My mother-in-law got her kids to sprinkle her ashes off the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. That sounds like a worthy alternative…but my son doesn’t have anyone to give him moral support in any such antic. So I hesitate to ask for that.

Whatever. The time has come to figure out what to do when the “time” does come.


At any rate, we’ve wandered from the entrance to this little rumination. The kick-off was that a lovely friend of mine is moving out of Sun City, whence he recently migrated, because he is a Black man and the natives out there have made him miserable because of the color of his skin.

And I do not want to be interred in that place.