Coffee heat rising

Loafifying…

How was your Thanksgiving? I hope a pleasant holiday was had by one and all! Mijito and I went over to his friends’ house…they not being middle-aged bachelors are happily married with half-grown kids and large extended families. Had a great time!

Today, I’m hanging out at the Funny Farm doing…nothing. Exactly nothing.

This loafing stuff has gotta stop! I’ve become addicted to it. I’ve learned to loaf with élan thanks to the Covid terror…I don’t even go to grocery stores anymore: just send a delivery person or order on Amazon. Walk the dog twice a day. And that’s it, in the mobility department.

The plague thing, it appears, is never gonna go away.  This is ducky: Looks like we’re going to have to run out and get a new set of shots every time the damn virus mutates into some new strain.

Dunno about you, but I’m getting mighty tired of the lock-up in solitary confinement. I see no one. I go nowhere. I do nothing. And I’m mighty tired of it! {whine}

That’s only a slight exaggeration. Driving around in parts of town where I haven’t gone since the lockdown began is vaguely disorienting. The city continues to evolve as we sit hunkered down in our caves. Normally, I’d be driving through those areas even if I wasn’t going TO a destination there, just to get from Point A to Point B. But since I don’t go to Point B anymore — send the Instacart runner if I must, or else order stuff on Amazon — there actually are parts of the city where I haven’t gone in a year or more, since this whole flap arose. And without the church and choir, I have exactly zero social life. Thanksgiving at the kids’ (now middle-age parents’…) house was the first large social event I’ve been to since the horrible flap blew up.

And it looks like the solitary confinement is not gonna go away soon:  Pfizer says, sounding optimistic, that it can whip up a new vaccine for the Omicron variant in a mere 100 days — forgodsake, that’s three and a half months! Before it even starts to get to market…

Meanwhile… Have you been watching the price of real estate? Migawd…we’re putting Southern California to shame. Lookit this: two bedrooms, one bath. Over by the coliseum, where the neighborhood streets (and people’s front yards) disappear under a tide of parked cars every time any event takes place. Four and a quarter! Over four times my father’s entire retirement savings, which he figured would support him from the age of about 50 until he fell face-forward into the grave. Then we have this astonishing slum property, right around the corner from Chuck’s Auto (car dude extraordinaire), around the corner from Xavier & Brophy (fancy private high schools), and within walking distance of the place where DXH and I lived when we were first married: https://my.flexmls.com/DeanTompkims/search/contacts/20211024182402853739000000/newsfeeds/listings/20211124193010032749000000  Terrifying!!

Seriously terrifying: if a fire started on that stove while you were upstairs in the bathroom, you’d have to jump out a window to escape. Assuming you could get a window open…

The Funny Farm is supposedly worth (sez Zillow) over five times what I paid for an identical model two blocks closer to Conduit of Blight Blvd., back in the day; and well over twice what I paid for the present FF. How the hell do young people get by in these circumstances?

Meanwhile, in other overpriced climes: couldn’t make it to Costco on gasoline fumes yesterday, so filled up at the QT over in east Sunnyslope: THREE DOLLARS AND EIGHTY-NINE CENTS A GALLON!

Hoooolleeeee mackerel. Went ahead and filled up there, though, figuring a couple extra bucks was worth avoiding a twenty-minute wait in line at Costco’s gas pumps. Plus I wasn’t entirely sure the tank had enough gas to make it all the way out to Paradise Valley.

It bein’ Black Friday, Costco was JUST JAMMED.

Only needed a couple things, though, so that was not such a BFD.

Quite.

Well. Yes, it was.

One of the things I needed there was to order up a new pair of  glasses, since this morning I was soooooo delighted to discover I’d lost my regular pair of progressives. Supposedly a prescription is good for one year. By law.

Answer: Nooooo they will not. My computer says it’s still November. Right? I renewed these effing glasses last December. THEREFORE we should have another couple weeks to go before I have to do another government-mandated hoop-jump.

Well. No. They flat refused to sell me a new pair of glasses.

Next time I get a new spectacularly expensive prescription, I am going to buy TWO pairs of regular (not shades) progressives, so that I don’t get screwed like this again. One Rx fits me for a good two to three years, and if I lose or break a pair, I do NOT need Big Brother ordering me to throw my money down the drain like that.

And speaking of spectacularly expensive: Inside the Costco, I picked up a chunk of my favorite white cheddar cheese and then turned to the adjacent wine aisles, where I planned to restock the stash of Spectacularly Cheap Red.

Uh…

No.

INCREDIBLY, their prices for Cheap Plonk were in the Baron Rothschild range!!! Seriously: You could do better on a mid-range to cheapo bottle at freakin’ AJ’s (!!!!!!). And certainly much, MUCH better at Sprouts.

So I was just furious. Drove way to Hell and Gone out to Paradise Valley and bought nothing except for a chunk of cheddar cheese, the like of which also I could’ve gotten at AJ’s or Sprouts, in smaller quantity. And after this: those fine venues are gonna be where I shop

{sigh} After I got home, I stumbled upon the “lost” glasses, so once again can see my feet as well as the side of North Mountain. I’d put them away. As in their proper glasses case, in the cabinet where they belong…bizarre behavior! No wonder I couldn’t find them…

What a g.d. wasted afternoon.

Not exactly loafing, quite. (A typical Costco covers about an acre, so a stroll around it is at least a little bit of a walk.) But somehow wasting time and effort seems even more unhealthy than loafing.

Loafing’s not all that great for your morale, though. Yesterday while wasting time on the computer, I chanced to learn that my former bestie’s brother-in-law died several years ago, in Prescott. Of melanoma, the very entity Wonder-Dermatologist sliced off my face a few weeks ago.

That is just hair-raising…you couldn’t hope to meet a more vigorous, smart, and healthy man.

Ex-bestie: retired from Scottsdale Community College, living in Washington State with her new hubby, in what looks like a very nice home and neighborhood. Ex-bestie’s ex-husband: remarried and living happily ever after in a small town in Oregon. Third of the three brothers: still in Arizona and practicing law, having retired from the Superior Court bench.

How could we possibly all be old enough to have retired???????

Brave…Strange New World

I wanna say, in the first minute, that surely it hasn’t been SO long since I drove down Seventh Street that the place has changed to the point that I barely recognize it. But…but…??? Maybe it has?

Or maybe instead I’m losing my marbles.

Seventh Street is a road that, when I lived on the east side of Central Avenue between Central and Seventh, either housed my favorite haunts or formed a large part of the route to them. But… On reflection…???

In the first place, now that I live to the west of Central and even of Seventh Avenue (in Phoenix, avenues are to the west of Central and streets are to the east), many of those places on Seventh Street and Twelfth Street that I used to haunt, I hardly ever go to any more.

These days I tend to avoid the Safeway at Seventh Street and Glendale, where I used to do most of my non-Costco grocery shopping. It’s overpriced and overcrowded. Most of my groceries these days come from Sprouts, AJ’s (a local gourmet market), or Costco. Same with the Walgreen’s catty-corner across the intersection from the Safeway. Most of the stuff I’d buy at a Walgreen’s, I can get from Amazon or from the Albertson’s just down the street. If I just must patronize a Walgreen’s, there’s one across Conduit of Blight from said Albertson’s. All that’s required is to run the gauntlet of panhandlers to get in the front door: annoying, but a lot less time-consuming than driving several miles to a bum-free parking lot.

Unholy traffic! It was only quarter after three, but you’d  have thought it was pushing 5 p.m. Unless an awful lot of businesses are letting their workers off early because tomorrow’s Thanksgiving, the traffic on 7th Street has increased so vastly as to make the road almost unrecognizable.

Seriously. I was searching for my favorite bicycle shop, there to replace a pair of padded biking gloves that I use when manhandling Ruby’s leash. I know where it is. I know exactly where it is.

Damned if I could find it!

So I ended up having to trek east to Twelfth Street, schlep way the Hell & Gone down to Bethany Home, and backtrack north up Seventh again. Of course I found it, right where it belonged. But the whole corner seemed so changed, so altered, that I almost didn’t recognize the place.

Today’s road cruise took me past a place the handsome young real estate agent took me to: Nice enough patio home. Actually a very pleasant place, all things considered. I declined, because I really don’t want to live in a patio home — don’t like being crowded that close to the neighbors. Now…boy! Am I glad I said “no, thank you!” The tsunami of traffic pouring past that place…yipes!!! The noise would be deafening. It would be like living next door to Niagara Falls, twice a day.

Money blogger’s message here: Next time you’re looking at a house to buy, before you make a bid on it, go visit there during the rush hour. Park the car, get out, walk around for ten or fifteen minutes, and listen to what you can hear.

Thanksgiving Is y-Cumin’ In…

Lhudly sing good grief!

LOL! The elder generation in my family is now long “late.” But I can remember when our best friends Barbara and Larry used to get together with us in the days after the official holiday for a “Thank God Thanksgiving Is Over” celebration.

Barbara and I could cook — and I mean really cook. We were part of the generation of young professionals who became entranced by Julia Child and friends. Both of our mothers, the distaff side of a working-class generation, could put out a tasty and workpersonlike meal in the Joy of Cooking tradition. Barbara and I stood on their shoulders and engaged Julia Child.

So needless to say, the bland, sawdust-flavored turkey, the predictable mashed potatoes and beans, the gooey-sugary punkin pie were less than perfectly thrilling for us. By the same token, a swell-elegant Julia Child spread was equally lost on our relatives.

Nevertheless, we and our husbands would dutifully go to the November 25 family shindigs. And then as soon as the obsequies were done, it was THANK GOD THANKSGIVING IS OVER time. TGTGIO!

The following weekend, we would spend half the day in her kitchen or mine, cooking up some fantastic creation that actually had…you know…flavor.

Alas, those days are past. Our parents are dead and gone, as are mine and my father’s third wife and her daughter and grandson and son-in-law. (Those were folks who thought a saline-saturated Butterball turkey steamed half the day in a hot pot and served up with a Jell-O salad was delicious!) Barbara got mad at me for reasons I never have understood, and to this day refuses to speak to me. Besides, in the absence of Thanksgiving, of course, there can be no TGTGIO.

Of late, though, my son’s friends have developed a kind of substitute. The young people put on a big feast at one couple’s home, out in a North Phoenix suburb. It’s quite lovely! They invite all the aged relatives and a bunch of family friends. The kids are milling around merrily — by now, alas, they’re teenagers, but presumably in a few years they’ll be having their own TG dinners with their own little kids milling around. People bring stuff, creating a kind of potluck to complement the extraordinary turkey the young father cooks up in the brick oven he built in the backyard.

The company is good. The food is excellent. And unlike the traditional build-up to TGTGIO, it’s something to look forward to.

 

Dear Elected Representative, Chapter 2

So in my last post, I described my effort to enlist our elected city councilpersons to bring a stop to the (LOUD!!) late-night drag-racing on Conduit of Blight and Gangbanger’s Way, the main drags to the north and to the west of the ‘Hood.

I sent the same message, by email, to District 3 and District 5 councilindividuals, since Gangbanger’s Way runs east/west through both of those sylvan neighborhoods.

From one of these worthies, I heard nothing.

From the other, I heard a whinge to the effect that the city just doesn’t have enough funding to pay the cops to ride herd on drag racing. Or much of anything else.

Yeah. She actually said that.

In writing.

Apparently, the one who had nothing to say was the one who realized actions speak louder than words.

Along about 10:30 or 11 p.m. last night, once again up rose the ROOOOAAAAAR from the impromptu race track. I was reading. Figure that eventually I would have to cover my head with a pillow in an effort to get to sleep…which would as usual be a forlorn effort.

I continued to fiddle with whatever was amusing me…and…

About 15 or 20 minutes later, all of a sudden the race-track roar STOPPED!

Hey!

Is it possible that the one who didn’t bother to respond to my grutch instead used his energy to browbeat the policia?

I waited for the festivities to resume.

Minutes passed.

A quarter-hour passed.

Forty-five minutes passed.

Silence!

A miracle of silence!

Sooo…apparently that Dear-Sir [or Madame]-You-Cur letter WORKED! We’ll see tonight, if the racket resumes.

But if the racket does resume, the correspondence from the ‘Hood will resume.

😀

Dear Elected Representative…

The’Hood extends across two Phoenix City Council Districts: District 3 and District 5. So if we have something to grouse about, we have to rattle the cages of not one but two elected representatives. As you can imagine, this tends to discourage the locals from grousing.

But my gawd! There IS a limit.

Of late, a merrie band of drag-racers has taken up the habit of nightly hot-rod races, down Conduit of Blight and across Gangbanger’s way. They start at sundown and roar back and forth well into the night. Apparently the cops do nothing to discourage this party.

The reason, one surmises, is that the wonderful drag-race track that once stood out in a cornfield over on the west side was torn down to make way for tracts of stick-and-styrofoam houses. The voices of developers, in these parts, speak far louder than the voice of an unmuffled hot rod engine.

Hence, the latest missal to our elected representatives, Betty Guardado and Debra Stark:

Dear Ms. (Fill in the Blank):

Why exactly is nothing being done about the nightly drag races along Gangbanger’s Way west of Central and and along Conduit of Blight from Gangbanger’s to points south?

I live a good mile from Gangbanger’s and at least a half-mile from Conduit of Blight, and EVERY EVENING that racket keeps me awake into the middle of the night. The horrific uproar penetrates through solid block walls, double-paned windows, and a heavily insulated attic.

Conduit of Blight is lined with apartment buildings, mostly inhabited by working folks. Because there’s a school right next to those apartments, many of the residents there have children. How would YOU like to have to wrestle your kids out of bed at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning after they’ve been kept awake half the night by screaming hot-rods?

Is the refusal to patrol and limit those drag races a class thing, a malicious thing, or just an ignorance thing on the part of our fine city leaders?

Now, I enjoy watching drag races myself, and if it were safe for a single woman to be out and about at 10, 11, or midnight in this corner of North Central, I probably would get up, get dressed, and trek down there to watch the show. But OUR NEIGHBORHOOD IS NOT A RACE TRACK.

Why exactly was the wonderful race track over on the far west side shut down? That was a perfect answer to the problem: hot-rod lovers got to show off their toys and race them, it was one heckuva lot of fun, and the show did not have to go on under anyone’s bedroom windows.

And what excuse IS there for not having the police keep this illegal use of the city streets under control?

If the city has an excuse to offer, please explain it.

This, of course, will elicit no response, or at least none with any teeth in it. Elected reps here in lovely Arizona — especially city council members — tend to rest cozily in the pockets of amply moneyed interests. They do not CARE that the children of the hoi and the polloi are kept up until midnight. Even the moderately affluent voters of the outer reaches of ritzy North Central don’t have much heft with these people. If you’re not a developer, you really don’t count.

But I suppose it’s worth occupying 30 seconds of their time — or their secretary’s time — to pester them with a letter.

Jerks!

Tell me we’re not this old…

…are we?

Walking the dog this morning, I fell into a reverie about my father and his life’s ambitions…this, stemming from the realization that my house, all by its little self, is worth FIVE AND A HALF TIMES the amount he had set himself as a goal to accumulate so that he could retire.

And “retire” was his life’s goal: he just wanted to quit working.

Quite reasonably: his job was hard (most of us would find it grinding), it kept him at sea most of his life, and at heart the man was a homebody.

He had dropped out of high school and lied about his age to get into the Navy by way of running away from home. So as you can imagine, he was not a real sophisticated guy when it came to things that you and I might have learned in high school and college, or in the sort of jobs we would have had as adults. He didn’t understand, for example, about inflation. For him, a dollar was a dollar and always would be a dollar.

He figured that if he could accumulate, in savings, $100,000, he would have it made. Whenever he reached that goal, at whatever age it happened, he would quit his job and retire to Possum Kingdom. 😀

Once $8,000 would buy you this house…

Well, Sun City came along at just about the time he was approaching his goal. He thought that was a grand idea: cheap houses and no damn kids barreling around outside squealing and laughing.

When he retired, he did have that hundred grand — and then some. As I recall, it was about a hundred & ten.

He worked SO hard. A ship’s deck officer worked 24/7, with crushing responsibility for a multi-miillion-dollar vessel filled with enough oil to destroy a hundred miles of coastline.

This line of thought arose when, God only knows why, I recalled how angry my mother used to make him when she would go out and diddle away some phenomenal amount of money on make-up or clothes. She loved make-up, probably because her endlessly toxic smoking habit had wrecked her complexion and traced a road map of wrinkles over her face. I can remember one time, when we were living in Southern California and I was in high school, we went into a department store and she spent two hundred dollars on makeup.

$8,000 wouldn’t buy you the front porch at this place…not today!

How much was that, really? Well… Two hundred bucks in 19 and aught 60 was worth $1,853.45 in 2021 dollars.

Holeeeee crap!!! Can you imagine? It’s a wonder she survived…clearly the man was a marvel of self-restraint.

Redfin thinks my little house is now worth $579,225. Well over FIVE TIMES the net worth he figured would sustain him from the age of about 55 through his dotage until he toppled over into the grave.

It didn’t, of course. He ended up having to go back to work, not so much because of inflation but because — another outcome of his financial naiveté — he had almost all his savings invested in insurance securities, which tanked shortly after he quit.

Never put all your eggs in one basket…

Wow. It’s hard to believe I am SO OLD that as I was entering adulthood a grown man could, quite reasonably, figure he could retire on a fraction of what my house alone is worth. A tract house that is most certainly not Mrs. Gotrocks’ dream home!

Their little house cost $8,000 when it was new. Redfin thinks it’s worth $274,000 now. That’s pretty cheap for middle-class housing hereabouts. Cheap because…well…Sun City. 😉

SDXB wants me to move out there, partly to get away from Tony the Romanian Landlord (who busies himself just now with installing a nursing home two houses up the street) and partly, o’course, because you can’t beat the price of the real estate there. But oh, my…Sun City.

I just do NOT want to live in a ghetto for old folks. This morning as Ruby and I were strolling around, we passed pretty houses with irrigated lawns, and xeric yards with lush trees and shrubbery. (Yards in Sun City are “desert landscaped” with gray gravel. Or gravel dyed green, presumably to ape the look of a lawn.) Stopped to chat with a neighbor who was having her kitchen cabinets refinished — woo HOO! Gossiped while we watched the carpenter work. Watched a nitwit roar up Feeder Street N/S on an unmuffled motorcycle. Frolicked around a grassy public park (there is no grass in Sun City, except on the private golf courses where no, your dog is not allowed). We admired a gaggle of little kids playing on the swings and slide (no, your kids are not allowed in SC, either). Roamed into the Richistans where we assessed the progress of a spectacular renovation job (no, there are no Richistans in Sun City: the houses are all of a kind). Hopped in the car and darted down to AJ’s (no, there are no AJ’s grocers in Sun City or anywhere near it) and bought a roll of spectacularly expensive dog food for the Queen of the Universe.

Yes. I could bank about $275,000 if I sold the Funny Farm and moved to Sun City.

But between you’n’me, I don’t think it’s worth the cost.

I do NOT know what, if anything, can be done about Tony’s empire-building at the expense of all the other neighbors’ property value … or even if it will come at our expense. But I do know I don’t wanna live in Sun City, no matter how much cash I can pocket by selling this place and moving out there.

But still, the thought lingers: I am SOOO OLD I can remember when a brand-new middle-class house cost eight grand, and when a house just like mine (same model, same size, same tract) cost a mere one hundred grand. And when a bag of make-up worth $200 would have bought you a freakin’ trip to Switzerland.