Coffee heat rising

And so…a new start!

Well. A new start come January 20, 2021, if we survive that long.

Apparently Us Wild-Eyed Liberals are not the only Americans who feel gratified at the prospect of watching The Donald’s rear end as he exits the White House: the Dow shot up by 1300 points as this morning’s dawn cracked for the New York Stock Exchange — 1600 if you’re looking at blue-chips.

Let us hope all those joyous expectations for a New Day come to pass. Yet — being the glum skeptic that I am — I find it hard not to remind myself that very nearly half the citizens of this country have said, with their votes, that they much prefer to be led by an Orange Oaf than by a man of ethics and common decency.

We shall see.

Facts still remain: You still take your life in your hands if you dare to eat a meal at a restaurant. Almost every grocery-store employee in this country has been exposed to and tests positive for a life-threatening virus. The schools, prematurely reopened, also harbor and spread the disease among children, who bring it home and infect Grandma and Granddad, potentially shortening their remaining time on this earth from a few years to a few weeks. A man for whom hate, disdain, ignorance, and scorn (and lying! let’s not forget lying) come as naturally as breathing won the votes of half the Americans who went to the polls. Small children, wrested from their parents’ arms, remain locked in cages. Hostility and hate dominate the discourse on social media and in the comments of every news outlet that still allows comments. These commenters demonstrate not only the hate but the gullibility that infects their minds as they spread the most ludicrous conspiracy theories and spout like geysers from a bottomless pool of nastiness.

Pray for the best. Our nation is broken in some important parts. It may take divine intervention to fix it.

Election Numbers

Watching the vote counting on CNN on the neighbors’ television this evening. (A real television! Can you imagine?) Over here, the same is available online, for free, at cnn.com. Biden seems to be pulling ahead… maybe. What a thing to see!

I find it just amazing that almost half the adults in this country can still bring themselves to vote for the Orange Oaf, despite the continual stream of embarrassments and outrages and Mussolini imitations emanating from Washington. I mean…yes, PC is annoying. Lectures that you must love your fellow humans no matter what color they happen to be: condescending and patronizing. But none of that patter holds a candle to the past four years of breath-taking outrages and crudeness and hatred and near-treason we’ve seen emanating from Trump’s Washington.

The Wall around the White House was really the last straw. How can anyone support such a clown?

Apparently almost half our population consists of clowns… What a dismaying thing.

Today, though, it looks a lot like Biden is going to win, despite Trump demanding a stop to counting and even going so far as to suggest that votes from members of the military be disallowed(!!!). Can you imagine? This from the commander in chief of our troops? Holy sh!t.

Depressing. Everything that has to do with the Orange Buffoon is depresssing:

One could go on and on and on…but who has that much time left to spend on this earth?

Biden appears go be pulling ahead: as of 8:40 this evening (Mountain Standard Time) he needs fewer than 20 electoral votes to defeat Trump. He’s reporting that his campaign has secured over 4 million votes more than of Trump’s.

But the fact remains that the difference, state by state, between each man’s share of the vote is measured in tenths of a percent. How in the name of God could half of Americans vote for a travesty of a “president” like Trump?

Prepping For a Trump Loss

Opinion polls suggest our President is likely to lose in tomorrow’s elections. Personally, I’ll believe that when I see it, first because I’m not convinced public opinion polls are spectacularly accurate and second because, between you ‘n’ me ‘n’ the lamp-post, I believe Mr. Trump is fully capable of pulling off a coup.

He has  surrounded the White House with an unclimbable wall, and we have seen that he has built and employs his own private militia. And he has effectively issued a call to arms to the nuttier members of his large and nutty following.

One thing we’ve learned, if we’ve learned anything over the past four years: the stability of our republic is nothing like we imagined. Our present predicament — an irresponsible wannabe dictator in the White House whipping up mobs of uneducated, hate-stupefied followers in the mode of Adolf Hitler or Jair Bolsanaro, ripping children out of their mothers’ arms, making fun of disabled people, spreading hate and fear, waving an upside-down Bible in front of a church whose congregation would like nothing to do with him, minimizing a highly contagious, lethal disease: also unimaginable. Merchants and business owners so certainly expect trouble that they’re boarding up shops and business offices.

Given that he’s egging on his followers to block highways and harass those who disagree with them, and that he’s doing what he can to suppress the vote by fear, by intimidation, or by bully posturing, and that a whole lot of crazies have been taken in by him, I think it’s wise to be prepared for unrest — especially if Biden comes out on top.

Before the election results start to come in, stock in food, household supplies, and medications, top off the car’s gas tank, and if you’re armed, keep a supply of ammunition on hand. Since .22-, .38-, and .45-caliber shells are in mighty short supply, a can of bear spray could in theory be used for self-defense.  You should be able to get this at an outdoor store, assuming the stuff is legal in your state.

Crazed “demonstrators” are likely to knock out power. So do have a camp lantern and plenty of batteries in the house, plus a propane grill and plenty of propane. And water. Several days’ supply of water.

This threat will persist over several weeks, until all the ballots are counted and the elections are decided. So it would be wise to have at least a month’s worth of provisions stocked in. More, if possible.

The Biggest Bugaboo of Hallowe’en…

Tax records.

Actually, the real biggest bugaboo this year was covid-19, which pretty much put the eefus on Hallowe’en in our neighborhood. Over in lower Richistan, the young parents insisted on entertaining Hallowe’en tricksters and treaters, many of them creating hilarious long ore slides through which they could deliver candy without having to get close to the kiddies and the teenagers. But over here in the peanut gallery, most people simply shut down their property. I turned off the lights and hunkered down in the back of the house, and noticed that most of the houses around me were darkened, too.

Usually Mr. & Mrs. WonderAccountant host a little party on their driveway. Ruby and I go over there and hang out all evening, and a great deal of fun is had by all. The kids are such a kick in their costumes, and they’re usually accompanied by adults who are commensurately decked out. But this year, even if the WonderAccountants hadn’t decided to opt the festivities…well…with a shiny new life-threatening condition, I surely can’t afford to expose myself to a disease that is likely to carry me away, just for the fun of handing out candy to a bunch of strangers’ kids in costumes.

That notwithstanding, I left a big box of candy out on the sidewalk for passers-by. Usually when you do that, someone will steal the whole thing. Not even the thieves were out and about! 😀 The junk was still out there this morning, and now I’ll have either to throw it away or to donate it to some charity. Personally, encouraging kids to eat that crap is agin’ my religion, so I’ll probably toss it.

Meanwhile, we’re nigh unto the end of the year, and so it’s time to organize this year’s transactions for WonderAccountant’s delectation. Arrrhhhhhh!!! How I hate that task!!!!!

And THAT is the Biggest Bugaboo of Hallowe’en! Eeeeeek!!!

After last year’s torture, I decided I would download and organize a month’s worth of transactions at a time, so that by the end of the year only one miserable month’s worth would await.

But no. Not a chance. I am simply too, toooo lazy to force myself to attend to an aversive task on a regular basis. Plus it’s been a bit of a shitty year health-wise, and so I surely haven’t felt like farting with that garbage. From what I can tell, I kept up with the credit-union transactions through the end of May and the AMEX transactions…well, not at all. I’ve only got one AMEX download: May through June.

It will take hour after hour after brain-numbing HOUR to download these hundreds and hundreds of transactions and organize them by category in Excel.

This used to be an easy task in Quicken. But the program I was using turned out not to be compatible with newer Mac operating systems, so about all I can do is track the stuff in Excel and then pass the Excel files along to WonderAccountant. She can access my CU statements, but of course she has no idea how to categorize about 95% of that stuff. To save her time and my money, I really need to do the scutwork myself.

Ohhh gawd!

You know…as my time on this earth grows shorter and shorter, my patience with things electronic grows shorter, too. I am SO goddamn sick of hassling with computers! And wrangling data. And trying to overcome every damnfool new “improvement” and “update” foisted on us, most of which are far from improvements but represent some new headache. The last thing on this earth I want to do is spend several hours a day the next three or four weeks wrestling with data from the credit union, from American Express, from Medicare, and in Excel.

Well, with any luck at all, given the current state of affairs, maybe this will be the last thing I’ll have to do in that department.

Thank heaven for small blessings…

Shopping in the Age of Covid

Dunno whether it’s old age, the effects of the present ailment, or what: these days a Costco junket with a side trip to Home Depot is demoralizing and exhausting. Made what I expected to be a quick trip to Costco to pick up the new reading glasses, figuring also to grab a few items on the accruing Costco List.

First though, I had to wait for Gerardo & Crew to show up to prune several large trees than grew amok over the summer, and so… Before I could get out the door for the shopping project, one of my two clotheslines broke when I hung up a freshly laundered bedsheet. Can’t complain about that: it’s been ten years since I installed them, and I do use them once or twice a week. But dayum! So now I needed to buy some new clothesline rope.

Costco wasn’t even very crowded. But…a-a-a-z-z-z usual the store abounded with nitwits who get in front of you, trundle along in the center of the aisle so you can’t get around them, and take their sweet time. One lady was saved from a looming homicide by the extreme cuteness and charm of the two kids she had with her…otherwise, the world would be short one road-hog by now…

Been needing to buy a new set of sheets for quite some time. Mine are still fine, but they’re getting old…and it was one of those sheets that got thrown on the ground when the clothesline snapped, thereby reminding me that I really should splurge for an extra set. Just in case.

Seventy bucks for a set of Costco’s not-quite-fanciest 100% cotton queen-size sheets!

Even more for the sweaty uncomfortable synthetic blend sheets: eighty bucks for one brand and ninety for another. Jeez, guys…rayon’s not actually made of gold…

Anyway, that about doubled the cost of that junket.

Of course, Costco does not carry small items like clothesline rope. (You expected a bear?) So to get that, I had to stop at Home Depot on the way home.

The place was almost empty. How they stay open escapes me. Personally, I’ve come to truly hate shopping there. If I can order it through Amazon, I will. But I really didn’t want to wait a day or three to do the laundry, so decided to zip in and grab a skein of the stuff.

Every time I go in there, I’m reminded of how much I hate hate hate computer checkout stands. HD has now pretty much eliminated all their human checkout clerks, except for one hapless lady in the garden department. To get the clothesline rope, you have to hike all the way to aisle 18 — which is damn near to the fencing departmenttrudge up aisle 18 halfway to the back of the store, search up and down till you find the stuff shelved down near the floor, then turn around and hike all the way back to the garden department to find a living, breathing check-out clerk.

Really. There’s a Target and a Dollar Store just down the road from Costco. I should have gone into one of those places to get the damn clothesline. Or done what I originally thought to do: Order. It. From. Amazon!!!

Further annoyance awaited: As part of my covid-avoidance strategy, I wash every damn piece of produce in Dawn detergent and wipe down every damn plastic bottle & package with disinfectant before bringing it in the kitchen.

This is what we had to do when we lived in Arabia, on the shore of the Persian Gulf. And every time I repeat this “new”routine, I think my poor mother! What must she have thought when she first learned she would be spending the next ten years with this kinda routine? Then I think, Goddamnit, we’re living in a frikkin’ Third-World country today. When we came back to the states in the late 1950s, no American ever dreamt of submerging every bit of produce in skin-searing detergent before you could put it away. Or, as my mother had to do once or twice every week of the ten years we spent overseas, dipping every piece in Clorox. Because, whoop-de-doo, we were a First-World country!

But moving on.

Finally ensconced in the house with the garage door shut behind me, I felt dirty…like a dusting of viruses no doubt had settled upon my clothes as I trudged through those vast, warehousey stores. So decided to throw what I had on into the washer, along with the rest of the colored clothes. This added a load of laundry to be hung up to dry (on the rack in the garage) to the tasks of cleansing the day’s purchases and cooking dinner.

In short order, Ruby comes tearing out through the garage and shoots out the side door in a screaming frenzy: ARF ARF GRRRRROWWWWLLL ARF ARF ARF GRRRRR ARFETY ARF ARRRRFFF! Some alien force is operating in the alley!!!!!

Cripes. Now there I yam in my lady BVDs, having just shucked off my jeans, shirt, & socks and thrown them in the wash. Chase the dog to the back fence, sneak up, peer over the wall… Two guys are out there digging up one of the fire-hydrant-size Cox gadgets that sits in the alley.

Poor fellas. They have a couple of shovels that they’re pounding away with. That dirt out there has been packed down with a steam-roller. It’s about the consistency of concrete. Periodically they (or someone) knocks the Internet connection off line…so it’s anyone’s guess whether this grutch will go online today.

{sigh} Really should get up and stretch a length of that clothesline out there. But that will entail dragging the ladder around from the far side of the house, through the swimming-pool gate, and then dragging it back. To say nothing of climbing on it. The hapless sheet has gone through the dryer and is now put away. The new sheets can wait for another day for their first laundering. It’s four in the afternoon… Feels like it’s about 9 p.m., and I sure wish it were because what I’d like right now is to go back to bed and sleep straight through to the usual wake-up hour, 3 ayem.

Morning in Arizona…

You have to be an Arizonan to think a cloudy morning is gorgeous. 😀 The weather is finally cooling off — at darned near the end of October. The summer of 2020 has got to have been the longest summer on record, here in these parts. We’ve had three-digit heat until just the past week or so. Finally was able to turn the watering system from daily to once every other day. By now, it would normally be about time to cut it back to once every three days.

Keeping potted plants alive in a low-desert summer is a challenge, unless your plants are all cacti. Anything that has actual leaves on it has to be watered every. single. morning. Miss a day, and your plant keels over dead before sundown. A large part of my garden resides in pots.

The usual winter flocks of birds have yet to migrate this year. The few doves and finches that stayed behind are not even finishing off all the seeds that fill the feeder each day. It’s possible, I suppose, that they may have been frightened off by the occasional appearance of the hawk that’s come a-visiting. But I doubt it. First, they’re not that smart. And second, the hawk’s appearances are few and far between.

The Rattie gambit continues. At this point, she has allowed herself to be persuaded to enter the cage trap by following a trail of bait — pieces of apple seem to be her favorite. BUT…she’s too damn smart to try to grab the piece left on the little plate that triggers the door to fall.

Right now the door is secured open, so as to persuade her that nothing could be safer than the cozy den that is the inside of a rat trap. The plan is wait until she’s confident enough to stroll back and forth  — and to take the bait from the trigger — and then set the trap to slam shut on her.

Roof rats are said to adore peanut butter. She didn’t seem impressed by the gobs M’hijito smeared on the trigger. So the next plan is to get some peanut-butter candies and set one on the trigger plate.

Last night, though, she did stumble onto a glue trap. But…after dragging it across the yard, she managed to shed it outside the doorway to her den.

It is not good when you realize that a small rodent with beady little eyes is probably smarter than you are.

The endless national quarantine also drags on. The church has opened in a half-baked way, but since I’m told there’s a real good chance I’ll die if I catch the present contagion, I’m staying away. Choir is shut down, of course — singing in a choir being about the riskiest thing you can do when an epidemic disease is about. Our choir director is engineering the most amazing compendiums of our voices, having us sing our parts at home into a computer and then blending all the recordings into one highly convincing production. Problem is…

Well, the truth is…I don’t sing. I sing along. The choir is generously laced with professional and near-professional-quality singers. As long as I’m near one of those talented singers, I can manage a serviceable job. But sitting here in front of my computer, my rendition of Joan Baez sounds a whole lot like Daffy Duck.

The Frontline crew — the group of women who volunteer to staff the office’s front desk — are back in business. But for the same reason I’m staying away from choir, I’ve de-volunteered for that, too. Picking up a phone and speaking into a handset that at least ten other people have used and that, with a bunch of little holes in it, would be impossible to disinfect, does not seem like a wise move.

Meanwhile, the antic Hallowe’en festivities are also off, at least on our street. The WonderAccountants and I usually sit in their driveway to dispense candy and ogle the goofy outfits. Because this is a middling affluent neighborhood surrounded on three sides by low-income areas, people truck and bus their kids into the ‘Hood, we we get to enjoy dozens and dozens and dozens of adorable kids and teenagers in the craziest outfits you ever saw. Sometimes the moms and dads are decked out, too!

A great controversy arose on the neighborhood Facebook page, pretty much echoing the nation’s artificially hyped ambivalence about the risks of covid-19. Some people are saying they’re not participating in Hallowe’en this year. Others are saying they most certainly are, and defiantly pile up vast monuments to Hallowe’en in their front yards. And still others suggest we set up tables in the park and try to dispense candy from a distance. As it were. Here on our end of the street, we’ve come down on the side of the better part of valor. I do not know what the Evangelicals across the street — the ones who believe covid-19 is a hoax dreamed up by the Democrats to make Donald Trump look bad — plan to do. Oddly, it seems not to register that a holiday celebrating Satan and his demons isn’t exactly Christian…but they regularly participate.

Whatever. I will spend the evening listening to Ruby have a barking frenzy every time anyone even so much as approaches the house, to say nothing of ringing the doorbell. And that’s too bad. Hallowe’en is my favorite holiday. But not this year.

Sooo… days and days and days go by with no human contact. Luckily, I was already something of a hermit, and so I’ve not completely lost my mind — assuming it wasn’t already lost before this stuff happened. Often when Ruby the Corgi and I take off for a doggy walk, we meet Margie, the bodacious 94-year-old Lhasa Apso Lady, with whose dog Ruby has managed to make peace. But that’s it: one human, sometimes, in a given 24-hour period.

But what the heck! I’ve managed to rack up 425,000 points in the Washington Post’s online time-waster games. That’s quite a chunk toward my ultimate lifetime goal of 1 million points.