Coffee heat rising

Real Estate, Landlords, and the ‘Hood: Update

Good grief! It’s been awhile since I’ve been here at FaM! In the interim, the real estate search project has continued. Tony the Romanian Landlord has made excellent progress on his project to convert our former neighbor’s home into a nursing institution. And I’ve learned a bunch of things.

I’ve been quietly and not-so-quietly looking for someplace else to live. Someplace not Sun City, not Payson, not Tucson, not Boise, and on and interminably on. Which is to say, someplace else to live in Phoenix, preferably in the zip codes that make up the “North Central” district.

Real estate is radically hot here just now. Any house that’s even faintly desirable moves within three days of appearing on the market. So it seems, at least. That is literally true in many cases, and in others, kinda metaphorically so. Nothing stays on the market for long.

And the prices simply defy belief! We are in California territory, folks. I thought I paid too much for this house when I bought it for #$232,000. It’s now worth at least $550,000!

Redfin thinks our beloved old house in Encanto is now worth $1,146,500. It was a gorgeous place, now gussied up with “more money than taste” embellishments.

My son’s charming but tiny little house? $480,208.

Can you imagine? It’s hard to conceive how young people can even dream of buying a freestanding house. And apparently they don’t: apartment blocks are springing up all over the city.

Oh well. In the interim, what else has happened?

Among other things, I learned that the quiet, elderly couple who live across the street from me are yet more of Tony’s relatives!

Yes!!!

They are Pretty Daughter’s in-laws! Her husband’s parents.

“Were” is, at least partially, the operative term. The old man died, and the elderly woman has been living there alone. My guess is that as soon as Tony finishes the nursing home two doors down, the first tenant will be Mom. Then he’ll glom her house and turn it into a nursing home, too.

Meanwhile, my eccentric next-door neighbor, who occupies the house between the Funny Farm and Other Daughter’s place drained her swimming pool. She also had some masons lay two rows of large cinderblocks atop her back wall, so no one can look over her six-foot (now about ten-foot) wall into the yard.

When you drain a pool here, you often end up with a shallow puddle of water in the bottom of the deep end. This pond then merrily breeds mosquitoes. The damn thing is way across her yard from my side fence, so I can’t tell whether any such breeding ground is there. But her pool is right up against Other Daughter’s fence.

And lo! A few days ago Other Daughter reported that she came down with encephalitis! And she damn near died. Apparently at one point the doctors thought she was going to die. Then, when she came back around, they thought she would never walk again — she couldn’t move her legs!

Eventually she did recover control over her legs and is now walking briskly around the ‘Hood, as has been her wont forever.

The type of encephalitis that holds forth here is called Western Equine Encephalitis. A-a-a-n-d…it’s carried by mosquitos!

Whaddaya know?

I haven’t seen her long enough to catch her and clue her to the possible connection between this terrible illness and our neighbor’s mosquito-breeding bit. But if I’m right, she needs to tell her dad about that. If anyone can put the eefus on that, it’s Tony.

Otherwise, though, I have two big containers of mosquito bits. If Other Daughter could ascertain whether water is standing on the bottom of that pool, we could throw a fistful of that stuff over the wall, and that would take care of the problem.

But problem it is: if O.D. could catch a horrific ailment from bugs growing in a neglected pool, then so can other folks in the neighborhood. Including me. And Ruby. And all those old folks in Tony’s planned institutes.

That poor young woman! Can you imagine? What an ordeal!

Meanwhile, life goes on, for the rest of us as well as for O.D. The weather is beyond gorgeous. And I most decidedly do not want to move out of my house.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve driven from pillar to post, searching for some replacement for the Funny Farm. There’s precious little out there. Certainly precious little in the price range I can afford. There are some cute places here and there…but the cost is in the many hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the desired neighborhoods, affordable places are close to fine thoroughfares like Conduit of Blight Blvd., which emanates a deafening roar 24/7. Or they’re 900 square feet. Or they require tens of thousands of dollars worth of repair and upgrades.

Meanwhile, I become more and more aware that I like my house — nay, I love my house, and I do not want to move out of it. Within the next week or two, it’ll be too late to peddle it to some unwary buyer, because Tony will have his latest nursing home in business. And you know, maybe the correct attitude is, to quote our Late-Unlamented First Lady,

I don’t care.

Do you?

Those Eastern Europeans! Maybe they’ve got somethin’ there!

😀

 

Real Estate Window-Shopping

Tony the Romanian Landlord, my bosom enemy, has bought the house catty-corner across the street that recently went on the market when the long-time owners decided to retire to the high country.

Tony, after a hostile encounter some years ago, hates me with all his flinty heart. And he’s a nasty fellow. Some of the neighbors around him think he is Romanian Mafia. I don’t…I think he’s just a guy who’s trying to get ahead and is doing so by the rough customs of his native land. But that notwithstanding, during our last encounter he threatened a judge and scared my lawyers so badly they urged me not even to go home, but to rent someplace far, far away, spend the night there, and sell my house right now.

I declined.

He himself has never tried anything, but his mentally ill ex-son-in-law did, presumably to get in good with Dear Old Dad. After my German shepherd took out after him, he ended up sitting in the middle of his driveway weeping. Poor li’l guy.

That the old man has got his hands on a house this close to the Funny Farm is a concern. When my neighbor right behind me sold so she could move into an old-folkerie, she told her realtor (who happened to be her cousin) NOT to sell to Tony. Well….the instant the For Sale sign went up, he showed up at the door. And he was, she reported, absolutely enraged when the realtor refused to do business with him.

But he did get his hands on this latest sale, across the street. I don’t know what he intends to put in there — he cranks his money with a chain of nursing homes, all installed in formerly private homes in residential neighborhoods. But you can be sure it ain’t good.

The previous owners took excellent care of the house, and when they put it on the market, it was gorgeous. Freshly painted. Beautiful flooring. Nice yard. Nice pool.

Tony’s boys have been in there for weeks pulling the house apart. They’ve deconstructed the interior and have been inside building stuff: presumably dormitory-style cells to accommodate whatever fine folk Tony intends to put in there.

So the question arises: Should I sell now and get out of here while I can? If he does what I think he will — install some highly undesirable institution in there — because Arizona law requires sellers to disclose any potentially negative issues, I won’t be able to sell this place for what it’s worth: about five and a half hundred thousand. Much less than that, and I won’t be able to buy a comparable house in a reasonably safe neighborhood…real estate values have run amok here. And of course, the way to frost his cookies would be to move just as he’s finishing up his repurposing construction and before he can move in a crew of clients.

This question has been nagging at the back of my mind for some time. Lately I’ve explored several neighborhoods in what is called the “North Central” district, searching for a place comparable to mine. By and large, these are scarce: North Central is a tony area occupied largely by affluent business executives, lawyers, and doctors. I live on the fringe of North Central, just below a violent and alarming slum called Sunnyslope. A canal and a main drag known to FaM readers as “Gangbanger’s Way” delineates my middle-class neighborhood from that more wild and woolly part of town. But…the wildness and the wooliness depress the property values in our tract. Get deeper into North Central, and I can’t begin to afford to buy.

While I was over on the far northwest side of town yesterday, arranging to ship the ailing MacBook off to the Apple factory, I had to drive through a part of the Valley called Arrowhead Ranch. This is a large Southern-California style tract development, most of it on the high end. I would call it upper-middle class, by and large; however, a few years ago the Republic reported that the Arrowhead area has the largest number of millionaires per-capita in the Valley.

Apparently most of these are owners of service businesses — carpet-cleaning, air-conditioning, pool building and repair, & the like — who live over there because it’s relatively close to their establishments. It’s the only upper-middle-class area between the I-17 and Waddell…which is a LONG way west.

When Arrowhead was first built out, I wasn’t impressed. But as I drove home over surface streets that took me through the increasingly dire slum just to the north of the ’Hood, I thought that place looks better by the day….

The houses are stick & styrofoam, which to my mind is the hallmark of cheap construction (literally: a strong man can put his fist through an exterior wall…that’s how the burglars got into a friend’s home out there). But if you can get past that…some of these places are pretty nice. This one, for example, is comparable in size to my house, only in the late 20th-century plaster-&-styrofoam style. Personally, I hate those glass-top stoves…and they’re apparently in most of the houses out there. I saw ONE gas stove during 45 minutes or an hour of browsing this morning. I’d about concluded that they just don’t have gas service in Arrowhead….but there one was. Presumably a younger crowd of homeowners means a preponderance of people who don’t cook at home, or who think cooking has to do with microwaving.

It is a LONG way from the church — a good 40 minutes or more, depending on traffic. So that activity would go away. More to the point, it’s just as far from my son’s house…meaning I would see him even more rarely than I do now.

This place is a thousand square feet larger than mine, almost.  Kinda cute. But it’s north of the Loop 101 freeway, which is…kinda weird. The dust-catching “plant shelves” (trans.: we are too cheap to build the walls all the way up to the ridiculously elevated ceiling) are a turn-off, as are the factory-made kitchen cabinets that don’t go up to the ceiling, either.

And this one:  Hmmm…. Same bland, cheap architecture…right on an artificial lake (read: mosquito-breeding pond). And no wall between you and the scenic view. Meaning no privacy in your backyard. No skinny-dipping: you’d have to lash yourself up in an elastic strait-jacket every time you wanted to go swimming.

This is not a bad little shack, in the price range. Once again, only a hot plate for a stove. Backyard scenically opens onto the golf course.

Know what happens when your house sits next to a golf course? I looked at one of these fabulous golf-course abodes at Arrowhead some years ago, before I bought my present house. People whack golf balls off-target and they fly into your house’s walls. That plaster can’t withstand the pounding, so it’s soon pitted with golf-ball sized divots. Notice the screens on the windows in back…no doubt there as much to keep the glass intact as to provide “shade.” Backyard is dreary…looks like it’s never been landscaped — notice the neighbor’s yard is pretty lush. Suggests the place was used as a rental for a goodly period, or that the outgoing owner let everything die. Hmmm…

In.
Aus.
Pi.
Cious…..

Then there’s this. Another fine golf ball target. What on earth do you suppose IS the appeal of all those plant shelves? Just imagine having to keep it clean! And that bathroom, where they ran amok with the Mexican tile: eeeeeek!

The demented high ceilings: you, too, can pay APS to air-condition the stratosphere!

These places make our early 1970s houses look good by comparison. Our design is more intelligent. No stupid plant shelves. No stratosphere-high ceilings. Gas service, so you can have a real stove if you want one. Only drawback is the proximity to the slums on the west side of Conduit of Blight and to the north of Gangbanger’s Way, and consequently the crime level and the ever-present stoned-out transients. But that can be dealt with by a good, loud dog.

Mr. WonderAccountant is about to retire. Their son and his young wife took up residence in the West Valley, and they’ve been urging the WA’s to move out there: just now they live right across the street from the Funny Farm. WonderAccountant herself does NOT want to go. She likes it here. But…if they do one day move, you can be sure Tony will glom that place, too. About the only way I could keep him out of it would be to buy it myself and rent it, or sell it to someone of my choice. I actually could… Even without selling my own house, I could probably buy that place with cash.

But I’d sure druther not….

Don’t know what the jerk is doing to the place across the street, but after weeks of daily banging around, his crew are STILL deconstructing and reconstructing over there. Presumably they will make it a drug rehab half-way house or an institution for raving lunatics. If I’m going to move away from whatever gem he’s installing over there, I do need to get on the stick…get sold and moved before he puts a public nuisance in there that will make it impossible to sell this place for the going rate….which of course I would need to clear in order to get into someplace comparable somewhere else.

Hadn’t considered Arrowhead before…but now it’s definitely on the radar. Encanto — where DXH and I first lived, in an absolutely gorgeous 1929 house — has the same issues as the ’Hood does: crime and bums. But look at this little cutie.  That is right around the corner from where we lived, literally: we were at 326 on the next street south of Encanto. The Encanto area and its adjacent, ritzier Palmcroft district are just flat overrun with derelicts, burglars, and wannabe rapists. Hence the bars on all the doors in this little house. Probably all the windows are alarmed — or not: actually, those old-fashioned crank windows with the steel frames are hard to break into.

Eight and a quarter for THIS????? What ARE they smoking?

Whoa!!! Lookit this! Dayum! Right on the fringe of Darkest North Central! It’s a little too close to Glendale, a large and noisy thoroughfare. But it’s in a pretty tony area….the price is a little alarmingly low for that part of town. Wonder what’s wrong with it? All you can tell from these images is that it needs to have the backyard landscaped. I could easily do without my swimming pool…and look at all the space for one’s German shepherd to run around back there. Hm.

I’m afraid the racket from Glendale would be unacceptable, though.

Another one down in that area. It’s a cute little house. Pretty much in the middle of the neighborhood — relatively quiet, one presumes. Floors need to be redone: that could be an expensive proposition. The bamboo patio is a little weird — presumably the jungle is for privacy, since the thing is in the front. And personally, I really don’t like electrical lines spanning the pool. They may not be legal: today the code says you can’t build a pool beneath electric lines.

Uh oh! Just remembered I need to go to the store….and eeek! It’s almost noon. Thank the heavens for Instacart!

Whaddaya think, dear readers? Hold the fort? Or take the path of least resistance and move, before Tony installs whatever malign disaster he’s working on?

Houses, Houses, Houses….

Checked with another Realtor by way of trying to track down a place that might appeal enough to lure me out of the Funny Farm — and thereby take me and Ruby out of the way of any harm Tony and his tribe plan to inflict on our neighborhood.

As usual whenever I peruse the real estate offerings in Phoenix, I see a couple of places that might be OK and a whole lot of places that are off-the-charts not OK.

The problem is, my current house is so close to perfect for my needs and my tastes that rather little appeals. Uhm…make that “rather little” a “nothing.” Seriously: the house has ruined me for the real estate market!

Willo, a historic district in the central part of the city, is the home of the first house my husband and I lived in. We would still be there if we hadn’t had a kid (couldn’t put him in the public schools there) and the crime rate. And, after they installed a fire station a block away, the spectacular noise level.

Here’s a house in Willo that’s similar in style to ours, though significantly smaller. The place was not a tract in the sense of modern ticky-tacky — every house was different. This sorta Santa Barbara Spanish look was one of several very different styles of architecture that inhabited the place.

Hmmmm…$1,700,000 for an apartment on Central Avenue. Eight hundred seventy-five K for a modernized house that looks about as inviting as a prison block.

Here’s this pleasant-looking place, all decked out in the latest shade of penitentiary gray. It has only one serious drawback, to my taste: it’s right on Seventh Avenue, one of the busiest commuter thoroughfares in the city! That may explain the bargain price of a mere 530 grand.

Seriously. When you look at this stuff — and those brain-banging prices! — you come to suspect I’ve got the best of all possible worlds in this house. It has all the features of the best of the offerings on the market and none of the disadvantages. It’s paid for.

And you may be darned sure I didn’t pay five or six hundred thousand bucks for it! 😀

 

Hyperinflation and the House Shopper…

Welp, in the middle of the great flap over the Nose Cancer (the upshot of which was “they got it all,”  astonishing surgical skill demonstrated in the process), we learned that the dread Tony the Romanian Landlord is back up to his tricks. Turns out he bought the house across the street, recently put up for sale by a neighbor couple who retired to the high country. A-a-a-a-a-n-d…he’s got an army of workmen in there gutting it out (the house was up-to-date and in primo condition) so as to turn it into yet another halfway house or nursing home.

Tony is in the settlement home business. He grabbed a home on a pretty little street where one of my friends lived, let it stand vacant and weedy for a year or more while the recession trudged past, and then turned it into a nursing home, replete with the traffic and the damage to neighboring property values that entails.

Phoenix’s wise City Parents, in a fit of merciful generosity, made it legal to do so. They installed an exception to the city code that forbids running businesses out of homes in residential tracts — for nursing homes and halfway houses. The fact that these places are ill-regulated (if regulated at all) makes our wise leaders no nevermind.

One of said fine establishments here in the ‘Hood is leased out to a nursing home whose employee was regularly raping a vegetative woman. Got her pregnant, not that it mattered to her, because she was perpetually unconscious. Yes, permanently. But it did matter to her family, who quietly installed a camera in her room and filmed the guy diddling his “patient.” (Read “prisoner”…) So as you can imagine, Tony is less than fully appreciated here in the ‘Hood.

When I realized he was up to his tricks again — this time right across the street — I decided it was time to move. Enough, after all, being enough. The property values here in the ‘Hood are so inflated that I could buy something comparable anywhere in the central part of the city…or in Scottsdale, or in Paradise Valley, or in any number of local venues.

So I called my friend Nancy, who happens to be an ambitious Realtor, and asked if she would look for new digs. One possibility is a high-rise apartment on Central Avenue…but ultimately I discarded that idea because I like Ruby the Corgi, I’m not getting rid of her, the hassle involved in coping with a dog in an apartment is more than I can cope with. And besides, I like having a yard. And a pool, for that matter.

Nancy is hot to trot. She wants me to take out a loan right now so’s I can buy a place, and then after we sell this one, if I choose to do so I can then pay it off.

She says my house will sell within a few days — the market is extremely hot. And apparently that is true, despite astonishingly inflated prices. Very few places are for sale, and some of those are…uhm…heh…amazing. Yet none of them stays on the market for long.

Shoofing around…

Here’s this little shack directly to the south of here: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/1619-W-Frier-Dr-Phoenix-AZ-85021/7777319_zpid/  Four thousand square feet for $1.5 million. Right. Moving on.

Okay, so I thought this one looks pretty promising, also in a neighborhood to the south: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/7720-N-17th-Ave-Phoenix-AZ-85021/7777063_zpid/  If it weren’t almost 800 grand…

Here’s a bargain at $586,000…  https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/812-W-Orangewood-Ave-Phoenix-AZ-85021/7777565_zpid/  It hasn’t moved in almost two months, which says something’s majorly wrong with it. Like, say, 586 grand?

Here’s one in the price range, slightly smaller than the Funny Farm: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/7819-N-17th-Ave-Phoenix-AZ-85021/7777084_zpid/  Not a bad little house, especially if you’re charmed by 1950s windows and can do without a garage for your car.  The area around it looks a little flakey…possibly rentals???

We have this “hidden gem”: https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/7731-N-17th-Dr-Phoenix-AZ-85021/7777054_zpid/  On my yellow pad I noted “too close to 19th Avenue; a little funky. No garage.”

$1.2 million for this: https://myhomegroup.com/homes-for-sale-details/7508-N-13TH-AVENUE-PHOENIX-AZ-85021/6279740/123/   Seriously??????

No? Well, OK, how about this stunner: https://www.redfin.com/AZ/Phoenix/7620-N-17th-Dr-85021/home/27609886 Check out that one-car car-port, and the great turquoise floor! The historic tile! The prison bars on the exquisitely designed add-on’s windows, and the fantastic acres of dead grass…

Otherwise, amazingly few offerings. I found several small sub-neighborhoods that looked pretty desirable, but nothing for sale in them. Here’s a cute little place, supposedly in the price range at $483,169: https://www.redfin.com/AZ/Phoenix/911-W-State-Ave-85021/home/27949284  “Currently off market.”

But here we have new construction!  In my not-very-humble opinion: exceptionally handsome, exceptionally livable and hevvin help us, it even has a garage, albeit one lacking a door. But…well…it’s right on one of the mainest of the city’s main drags. Enjoy traffic racket? Love the parfum de automobile exhaust? This is the place for you! https://www.zillow.com/community/willow/29377516_plid/

Moving on, I stumbled across THE most astonishing enclave (as it were): https://www.zillow.com/homedetails/213-E-El-Camino-Dr-Phoenix-AZ-85020/7794151_zpid/  This is on a street of little shacks built for agricultural workers. They’ve been enormously gentrified, presumably because young people with a little money and a lot of energy can’t afford anything else. They almost back onto the Arizona Canal, which is…well… Let me put it this way: it’s a Bum’s Highway.

This little place is surprisingly cute, all fixed up the way it is. But…yeah. I peeked in a front window and saw a bedroom that wouldn’t hold a twin bed! 

Well, actually, it would: it has a little nook clearly made to hold a twin or maybe a bunk bed. It’s the tiniest little place: smaller than a modern apartment. But it does have a nice big yard. It’s in a district called Sunnyslope, long renowned as an antique slum, home to the Valley’s Hell’s Angels. You would be dodging bums by day and bullets by night. But otherwise it’s kinda kewl… 😮

Got home after a couple hours of driving around to find Nancy (realtor) on the phone, hot to trot. She gave me the name of a lender to call. I was too pooped to deal with that y’day afternoon, but guess out of courtesy I’ll have to call him today. But pretty clearly this is a lost cause.

She said houses are selling within a matter of days, the market is so hot. She thinks my house (which by comparison with this stuff is some sort of a miracle) will sell instantaneously.

Ohhhkayyy… But the problem with that is every other house that comes on the market is the target of a feeding frenzy. And do you seriously believe I would have a snowball’s chance to snab a place comparable to the beloved Funny Farm?

Really. This makes effin’ Sun City look good! Ahhhh yes, Sun City:

Actually, some of those places wouldn’t be bad, if only they weren’t in a ghetto for old people.

All of which makes the Funny Farm look extremely good. Evidently I would be stark raving cahRAZY to move at this time. I do love my house, but given the Tony situation would move if I could find anything even faintly feasible.

Uhm. Maybe.

By the time I got home from eyeballing the market, I needed one of those beers in the fridge. Or maybe the whole frikkin six-pack….

I guess I’m just going to have to deal with Mr. Boca. He does know which side his butter’s breaded on, and so he doesn’t represent a physical threat. Having a social service agency across the street may not be pleasant….but nothing lasts forever. Including Tony. If he predeceases me, there’s a good chance the new settlement house will be returned to residential status and life will return to normal. Especially if enough neighbors complain.

Apartment House Dreamin’?

Of late… I grow more and more intrigued by the possibility of trading the Funny Farm in on a swanky apartment in the mid-town area. These are now proliferating with gay abandon, all over downtown and midtown Phoenix. Many of these places look very nice, indeed.

My agèd friend J., in insisting on moving herself and her husband L. into the prison for old folks that is the Beatitudes, was right in thinking that trying to live independently as you progress deeper and deeper into the Land of Old Age gets riskier and riskier with the passing the months and years. Now, she and L. were in their 90s when she insisted that they up and move into an institution. AND, more to the point, they had a dangerous lunatic living next door, who threatened not only them but other members of the HOA — one of whom was on the freaking City Council. Apparently nothing could be done about this nut case until she actually assaulted or murdered someone…and since the wretched woman had become quite a nuisance, it was reasonable to say “Let’s get away from this.”

And given their age, it was reasonable to decide the best “away” was into an old-folkerie.

But…ugh!! What a way to live! In a dormitory for old folks.

It seems to me that if you lived in a high-rise apartment whose building was well maintained and centrally located, you could replicate most or all of the services offered by the Beatitudes. Videlicet:

  • Meals can now be ordered and delivered right to your door — easily and at reasonable cost.
  • People in our economic class have cleaning ladies: J. & L. already did. She (imho) didn’t do a great job, but neither L. nor J. could see well enough to detect the places this woman failed to dust. But if you had a competent and caring lady, like the wonderful Luz, she would keep your place as clean as it needs to be.
  • Exercise classes? Phoenix College has them! For one heckuva lot less than it costs to live at the Beatitudes. PC is a five-minute drive from North Central.
  • Entertainment and mental stimulation? Midtown Phoenix is the home of a little theater troupe, a library, two major museums, a busy arts center in a refurbished shopping mall, parades, movies, a major community college with classes coming out the wazoo…. All of those strike me as a lot more entertaining than patronizing amusements put on for inmates.
  • Emergency and routine heathcare? Once you’re in mid-town, you’re right next door to not one but two major medical centers: St. Joseph’s & Good Sam. True, if you had a heart attack or stroke, you’d have to get an ambulance to take you there…but there are ways to simplify that chore.
  • Meals? Central Avenue is literally lined with restaurants. The inimitable AJ’s is within walking distance of some of the new apartment buildings; at any rate, the lightrail goes right up to AJ’s front door. Also along the way is a Safeway. Plus Instacart will deliver any groceries your little heart desires, from just about any vendor.
  • Uber is all over that part of town. Anywhere you wanted to go — to a store, to a theater, to a sporting event, or to the interminable visits with doctors and dentists — you could  be chauffeured.
  • You could hire a practical nurse to come in once a week — maybe even more often than that — to check on your health and be sure you’re safe. Possibly you could hire such a person to show up once a day…or recruit volunteers from your church to check on you.
  • The “Communicate America” emergency alarm service — where you push a button hanging around your neck to call an EMT — would serve just about the same purpose as living at the Beatitudes or its competition, the Terraces, in terms of assurance that you could get help in an emergency. Their device has a number of minor annoyances, and the service is pricey; an Apple Watch will do the same thing, as will an iPhone.

Those steps would provide the same services and goods that an old-folkerie would: food, regular check-ins, emergency services. Uber could take you to church, plays, movies, restaurants, grocery stores, sporting events,  and whatever else you pleased to do. For that matter, if you lived on Central Avenue, public transit would take you to most of those places. In other words…if you thought it through, you could replicate the services and advantages of an old-folkerie, without the depressing disadvantages. And being in one of those centrally located apartments would facilitate that scheme.

I’m thinking that given my age, even though I’m still pretty spry, maybe I should think about how I can get myself into one of those places and make it work as a haven for the pending decrepitude. A lot of those strategies could be replicated right here in my own house…EXCEPT…

  • The house is not as centrally located
  • You’d have to oversee yard and pool help as well as cleaning-lady and LPN help
  • The nearest hospital is John C. Lincoln, which IMHO is about as second-rate as you can get
  • On the other hand, the house is paid for, so the amount you’d have to pay in HOA fees for one of those apartment buildings would cover the cost of hired help..

This is something that bears thinking upon…

Out of the tunnel of annoyance, into the daylight of hilarity…

Tuesday: The usual 4 AM a.m. wake up call leaves me, once again, without enough sleep by the time I finally give up and roll out of the sack. About three hours later, I decide I’d better walk the poor little dog, who has not been outside in for-freaking-ever.

So I’m lashing the dog up in the complicated lash-up required to keep her more or less in line wiithout having her choke on her collar and fly into a reverse-sneezing frenzy. Remember, a doggie walk in these stressful days has to be managed with one hand: normally it requires two hands to keep her under control at all times. So in the best of conditions, this stroll is going to be a one-handed wrestling match.

Phone rings, just as we’re about to head out. My friend who was going to drive me to the first physical therapy session in the morning. Yeah.

Well, says she, she has remembered that she has a couple of errands in Scottsdale. So she will need to drop me off about a half an hour early and I’ll have sit there and wait for the therapy appointment and then  after that little nightmare is over I will have to wait again for heaven only knows how long until she gets back from Scottsdale to pick me up.

To put it mildly, this is not a scenario that appeals. So I say I will find some other way to get there.

As a matter fact the “other way” will be for me to drive myself, over my son’s dead body and in direct contravention of doctor’s orders.

Frankly I believe I will have no problem driving over there one-handed. As a practical matter I drive around with one hand most of the time. Except of course when dodging my fellow homicidal drivers. This, after all, is why we have power steering. Right?

By 9:45, the rush hour will be over and it should not be too unsafe to get there. It’s only 3 miles. I can get down there and also back home with a series of right-hand turns… In fact the only left turn I would have to make would be off a neighborhood arterial onto a relatively tame main drag. Additionally, the parking at this place consists of a long row of single-car spaces, so you can drive straight through without having to back and fill to get out.

Ruby loves grass, probably because we don’t have any. So when we get into the Richistans, all she wants to do is wallow and roll in the luxuriant, irrigated lawns that grace the stately homes. And, we might add, sniff every drop of dog pee that has ever  been deposited thereon. And of course, dump on said grass. Preferably directly in the line of sight of the proprietors’ front windows.

It’s supposed to reach 90° by afternoon and it’s already getting warm. All I want to do is move along, get the doggie walk out of the way and get back home where I can sit down and put my feet up again. So while she’s sniffing around in someone’s grass, I decide to stride right along… As I’m marching toward Pretoria, dragging her highness behind me, I hear ssskkkkkkkriiichchchchch….  

Huh? Turn around, glance back, and there’s the poor little dog at the end of the lead: she has assumed the position and is now helplessly being dragged forward by the harness, squatting and looking much like a stuffed Easter bunny.

Oh, dear God! I stop. She finishes the job: all over the neighbor’s front sidewalk. So there’s a nice mess to clean up!

We continue up the way and of course, invariably, it does not matter what time of day or night you leave your house with your dog…you cannot avoid your fellowvdog-walkers…

Along comes someone else with two large black beasts straining at their leashes. On our side of the street. The only side of the street that has any shade.

So we have to cross the (hot!) (asphalt!) road and proceed down the sunny side of the street until we get past that patrol. They drag their human into a garage, but the human leaves the garage door open, thereby also leaving open the question of whether he has let his dogs off the leash to roam around loose inside there, ready to charge us as we walk past.

I’ve noticed, on the way out, that the Funny Farm’s front yard is sprouting a nice crop of dandelions and assorted other weeds. When I get home, I call Gerardo to find out when he figures he will be around again. He says he’ll come over tomorrow. How convenient. I tell him that I won’t be here tomorrow morning, but Luz will be here. I arrange to leave a check for him on the back patio table. It also means I will have to leave the side gate open, because he has lost the key that I gave him and I have never managed to go to a locksmith and have another one made. Nor am I going to do so tomorrow, given the circumstances. I pointed out to him that Luz will need to be alerted to his presence since she will be less than thrilled to see a crew of dudes invade the backyard while she’s here alone.

At any rate speaking of the dog and the doggie products, I did manage to pick up three weeks’ worth of doggie mounds out of the backyard this morning. This is the first time that I have felt up for even trying to maneuver the doggy picker-upper gadget… And SURPRISE! Nooooo problem! So that was a pleasant discovery.

As a matter of fact, overall the arm is feeling a lot better. It seems not to hurt (much) unless I lift it up and out to the side. Lifting the arm straight frontward seems to elicit scarcely a twinge… Though I will say I haven’t tried to raise it over my head. So I take this as a good sign. I hope.

One thing that is clear from this fiasco: you cannot live in Phoenix without access to a car…PERIOD. It very well may be that if you imagine you are going to age in place in a freestanding home, you’re simply going to have to be able to drive a car or to find some way to get some transport service — not volunteers, not relatives — to ferry you around. This predicament, of course, is what makes it possible for outfits like the Beatitudes to talk the elderly into consigning themselves to a de facto prison. The Beatitudes will ferry you to doctors and grocery stores — at some considerable inconvenience to yourself, but at least you can get there.

One way around that, I think, is to move into one of the newer apartment developments that are going up around the city. These things are roughly modeled on European urban areas: commercial and office space on the ground floors, with apartments on half-a-dozen upper floors. If you live in one of these places, you could in theory avail yourself of restaurant food and maybe even some (very expensive) specialty groceries. One of my friends works in such a place right now…apartment buildings and office buildings are mixed together with retail and restaurants in a single development. It wouldn’t be my first choice of living environments, but on the other hand it wouldn’t be my last choice, either. The Beatitudes would be my last choice. With Sun City as the second-to-last.

The big malls built in the 50s and 60s here are moribund. Plans are on the drawing board to convert one such mall — the venerable Paradise Valley Mall, home of Macy’s (defunct), Dillard’s (now renting out its second-floor offices to freelance entrepreneurs), Penney’s (on its way out), and the like. There is a freestanding Costco in that shopping center — one would presume they will close it because it will be way too tacky to go with the fancy production the developers intend to build… But if it doesn’t close… If it stays in place… Well! That would make such an apartment development look mighty attractive. The living space would be right next door to a place where you could buy anything your heart wants, in lifetime supplies. Costco also has a gas station that underprices the competition by anything from $.05 to $.13 a gallon. It would be across the street from a Target, an REI, a Dollar Store, and a slew of middle-class restaurants. And it’s just up the road from the Valley’s largest and best-stocked Fry’s supermarket, which competes directly and ferociously with AJ’s, purveyor of fine and overpriced goods And it’s also close enough to the Mayo Clinic that you could get there quickly, and the 911 people would drive you there if you asked, rather than telling you that they’re going to take you to the depressing facility at John C Lincoln. The truth is that might be a place for me to consider moving to.

Fact, I think I will ask one of my coreligionists, who is an ambitious real estate agent, if she’ll keep an eye out for me as that place is developed.
Later. Having been up since 4 a.m., I’m going to take a nap before the sun comes up. And honi soit qui mal y pense!