Coffee heat rising

No Escape from the Mayhem…

This just in on the local news wires: a woman hiking in the desert around the residential tract near the Mayo Clinic was attacked and murdered.


Every time I think about how much I love my house but hate the marginal area where I live…how much I dislike Tony’s Home for Delinquent Boys and Girls across the street…how much I hate the constant cop flyovers, the noise from Conduit of Blight Blvd and Gangbanger’s Way, the transient bums, the need to keep every door and window locked…I daydream about moving to Fountain Hills.

The Mayo, replete with the best medical doctors in the county, is located right at Fountain Hills, a suburb of (un)lovely Phoenix. The houses are blandly handsome enough in appearance but cheaply built and elbow-to-elbow — don’t even ask how much it costs to air-condition one of those fine cardboard huts. There is a shopping center out there, but it’s pretty basic: you’d have to drive a ways to go to a first-rate supermarket or Costco or a specialty store of any kind. When my car got a flat while I was at the Mayo, I couldn’t find a gas station with a repair shop out there, not for love nor money.

The truth of the matter, I’m afraid, is what my friends say it is: you can’t get away from the mayhem that characterizes this part of America. Or maybe characterizes all of America. You’ll put yourself at considerable expense to try to escape. But you ain’t a-gunna escape.

And the prices in my favored part of town — a district called North Central — are just crazy! Even given that I could no doubt get a crazy price for my house, moving would cost enough to send me to the poorhouse.

Lookit this thing! That’s not a house: it’s a patio home. It’s smaller than my house. It’s a block from Seventh Street: noise, noise, and incredibly more noise, especially during rush hours. It has no yard. It has no pool. It’s not as nice as my house. It doesn’t have a real stove: just one of those glass-top hot plates.

Very nice, I’d say…if you don’t mind being smushed on top of the neighbors. Anything in the North Central area that’s truly in the same ball park as my house, in terms of size and quality, is waaayyyyy beyond my price range.

The houses in my present tract are cheaper because we’re bordered on the north by Gangbanger’s Way (the southern edge of Sunnyslope, a dangerous slum) and on the west by Conduit of Blight Blvd, also known as the Bum’s Highway. The homes and the neighborhood are quite desirable…but the areas around it ain’t!

SDXB moved to Sun City. He’s happy there. I’ve lived out there and don’t wanna do that again. It’s as far away from the central city (and my son) as Fountain Hills. Where Fountain Hills gets noise from jet passenger planes roaring in to Sky Harbor Airport, Sun City is blasted by racket from fighter jets flying out of Luke Air Force Base. And both venues are too, too far away from where my son lives.

And my son is very strongly opposed to my moving beyond shooting distance from his place.

For that matter, so am I. Of course I like living near where lives. And I like living in the North Central area.

But most of the centrally located neighborhoods are absurdly expensive. My area is within reason only because of the proximity to Conduit of
Blight Blvd (and now that damned train running up and down it!), to blight-ridden Sunnyslope, and to rackety Gangbanger’s Way. Despite those (considerable!) disadvantages, the houses are significantly newer than other structures in North Central (older houses are difficult and expensive to air condition, have weary wiring and leaky plumbing, and hordes of termites hiding inside the walls).

It’s crossed my mind to suggest that he and I trade houses. Then HE could deal with the Romanian Landlord and his disruptive delinquents. But he’d also have to deal with the pool (not bad if you hire a guy to ride herd on it, but my son is not the hired-help type) and the aging air conditioner and the aging landscaping… On the other hand, we could easily borrow enough against this house to pay off his mortgage (though it might be better to have me paying “rent” on his house, thereby making maintenance and repairs on that place at least somewhat tax-deductible….).

Heh! Here’s a thought: I rent his place from him, and he rents my place from me. This makes a WHOLE lot of costs tax-deductible for each of us! And I could still swim in the pool. Hmmmmm…..

Waaah! I want my doggie!!

Dayum! Ruby is at the vet’s, getting her teeth cleaned. A-n-n-d…that occasions an unnerving discovery:

Thanks to the plague, I have become so isolated that a little dog is just about my only companion.

She’s only been gone about four hours, and already I feel so lonely I’m freakin’ about to lose my mind!! Seriously: I want my dog back!!!!! 

This, I fear, is not a good thing.

Okay, it’s nice that my dawg loves me and I love my dawg. Sure, sure: very cute very sweet. But the fact that I’m now so separate from other human beings that in the absence of a bossy 35-pound dog I’m developing the heeby-jeebies?

No. Not good.

And…it does bring to the surface a lurking question: what next?

What am I going to have to deal with in the next phase of my life? What should I be doing now to get prepared for that phase.

Make no mistake about it: I am NOT prepared.

What am I not prepared for?

  • 24 hours a day of uninterrupted isolation (except, I suppose, for the computer and the yard man)
  • Getting food and other supplies into the house when I can’t or won’t drive through Phoenix’s homicidal traffic
  • Paying utility bills that are already approaching the outer layers of the stratosphere (how, for example, will I keep that pool full of water when I have to pay for water and everything else on Social Security?)
  • Filling the empty hours when just about any kind of volunteer work holds the promise of exposure to a potentially fatal virus
  • Endlessly soaring inflation, pushing up living costs even now…in a few years, even the cost of food may be unaffordable.

And I’m especially not prepared for the day that Ruby the Corgi will leave this doggy plane, once and for all.

{sigh} I want my li’l dogger!

Gettin’ all computer-hassled out…

Or maybe that’s “all hassled out,” in a more general way.

Tried to get in to Funny’s dashboard this morning. It wouldn’t take my password.

Tried again. It wouldn’t take my password.

Tried again. It wouldn’t take my password.

Tried…on and on.

Dug out the email address for BigScoots, the better to pester them. Type type type…

Tried again. This time it accepted the password. The SAME password I’d just entered repeatedly.

Yes. I do understand the need for computer security. I get hack attempt after hack attempt. Yes. And scam after scam after scam lands in my email inbox. Every day. Yes. I do know — from experience! — that there are large mailing lists organized by age, which sales hustlers use to target the marks they figure will the most vulnerable. If you’re over about 70, they figure you’re ripe for the taking.

As dawn cracks, for example, just in the e-mail inbox (not counting all the other possible avenues for scamming) we have

Hi Victoria,
I’ve selected a few opportunities you may want to explore. Apply directly if interested. If you’ve moved recently or would like to see different jobs click here and help me better serve you.

Have I applied for a job lately?


Have I contacted this outfit in any way, directly or indirectly?


Do they think I’m stupid as a post?

Sure enough

This morning I have to visit Young Dr. Kildare — his office is many miles closer to my house than the Mayo is, and so I’ve taken to seeing him for minor ailments, reserving MayoDoc for the heavy hitting. This is another nexus of computer hassle: every time you visit, they want you to sign into their annoying “Portal” and fill out redundant form after redundant form after redundant form. My computer will NOT let me into the thing, no matter what fu*king password I try. So I have to show up 15 minutes early and beg a staff member to help.

This is complicated by the fact that my appointment is for 9 a.m. — and they don’t open till 9 a.m.

but… <hard return hard return>…waitwaitwait!!!

lookee here! I’ve…


OMG! A miracle has happened.

I can’t believe it!

The night-long overcast has coalesced into a steady, pouring rain. The road crew out front has run off, presumably to a coffeeshop, leaving an army’s worth of equipment out in the road. I looked at that weather and thought…ohhhhhh shee-ut! Time for a strategic prevarication.

{grrrrr grrrrr…} I will be dayumed if I’m driving up the gawdawful Cave Creek Road to YDK’s office in the rain, through the rush-hour traffic under dusky early-morning skies.

one ringy-dingy
two ringy-dingies

Phone lady picks up.

I prevaricate extravagantly: “The city is digging up the road — apparently the sewer system has gone awry. [true; and true] I can’t get my car out of the garage [fake] and so it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to get up to your place by 9 a.m. [faker than fake].”

She buys it!  Or at least, she kindly pretends to buy it…so I’m outta there.

Actually, the ailment that led to this morning’s appointment has magically faded away. Ear weirdness: felt like (are you ready for this one?) a strand of hair had somehow worked its way into the ear canal and was poking me in the inner ear.  Just in the past hour, though, that sensation (which I’ve been enjoying for the lo! these many days) has pretty much gone away.

Soooo…here we are, loafing in an easy chair, watching the rain and enjoying the enforced silence out front (soon to be broken, whenever the heavy machinery can be fired up). If I had any sense, I’d go back to bed and try to catch a few extra Z’s before these guys get down to work.

But no one has accused me, not lately anyway, of having any sense.

Tony’s Home for Wayward Delinquents is quiescent. Some of the kids live there; others are bussed in by van each morning. Strange. Do they close down when it rains?

Unlikely. Could be, though, that the city warned them that all mechanized Hell was slated to break loose this morning, so they may have arranged for the least stable of their inmates to be kept elsewhere today.

For awhile, I thought he’d acquired the house next door to the south of the Institute. But…now I think that doesn’t appear to be the case. Hard to believe the city would let him glom more than one house in a row to convert into reform schools.

What. A. Place. If I had any sense — and my son would pipe down and quit threatening to have me institutionalized if I dare to sell this house — I would move far, far away from here. EVERY DAY is a new litany of crime and craziness. And since the ‘Hood is bordered by the tired and sleazy west side, just on the other side of Conduit of Blight Blvd., and by one of the most dangerous slums in the state just to the north of Gangbanger’s Way, one does not feel very safe here. And one is bloodywell not very likely to extract enough from sale of a home here to move into anyplace safer other than the dreary, depressing Sun City.

Ain’t it fine?

Gas station barricade–wheee!
QT Employee stabbed! Yeah: you can walk there from here, no problem…
Build-to-Rent: The newest rage in real estate. Uh huh…that’ll add a lot of class to this area
Escaped prisoner captured in Phoenix Hotel. Hmmm…how d’you tell the difference between an escaped convict and the local yokels?
Body found in local canal. That’s about 20 blocks from here. You could walk there from the university.
Cop creamed in crash; suspects run off.
Another officer-involved shooting. This one, at least, is a distance from the ‘Hood. For a change.

One could go on and on and on. The local news runs like this every day, and a substantial number of the Happenings occur near or in the ‘Hood. This is why I drive across the city to go to a grocery store, rather than walking or driving to the nearby Albertson’s. It’s why I’d rather drive almost out to the university — any day! — to go to the Sprouts, rather than buy at the one within walking distance of the Funny Farm.

Computer hassles. Real-world hassles. Good grief! Where do I go to buy a cave in the red-rock country of southern Utah?

Ben FrantzDale, CC BY-SA 3.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

The Birds Are Gone

On a beautiful morning like this — cool and clear, the kids across the street playing, the dog roaming about, the coffee cooled down to drinkable temp — the side yard would normally be alive with doves, sparrows, and wrens. Not so today.

This is the first morning all winter that I’ve decamped to the westside deck to swill the remainder of a the breakfast pot of coffee. And y’know…there’s not a single bird out here. This, presumably because I haven’t hung a feeder full of seed out here in months — not since we were enjoined to quit feeding birds, because of a bird plague that was holding forth. Apparently, though, I was about the only one who knocked off feeding them. We can hear mad chirping and frolicking coming from somewhere across the road…no doubt someone else is luring them that way.

In fact…let us get up, stumble out front and see if we can spot where they’re congregating…


Nope. Wherever the attraction is, it isn’t visible from the front yard.

What is visible? The aging paloverde tree in front, the one I had planted when I installed all the desert landscaping. It’s sagging to the east, and come the next stiff windstorm, very probably will fall over, pulling up a fair amount of gravel and fake “hills” with it. And likely knocking down the tree next to it.

Hm. I could have it taken out. Or just wait until it falls over and see if the homeowner’s insurance will pay to clean up the disaster area.

Meanwhile, in the Department of Home Improvements, the new refrigerator has about stopped making its obnoxious, loud noise.

Check out the saga, if you haven’t been following along:

Chapter 1: Kickoff
Chapter 2: Run-Run-Run-Run-Runaround Run-Run-Run-Run
Chapter 3: Fiasco Central
Chapter 4: Fridge Fantasia
Chapter 5: American Products in the Can

The criminal refrigerator is now working reasonably well, if you can imagine. At least, it works for the time being. Its motor still makes more noise than I would like, but it’s not intolerable. The problem, evidently, is that the vendor sold me a damaged item, but forcing them to take it back appears be outside the realm of possibility.

BECAUSE I had, at the behest of an older and wiser neighbor, charged the damn thing on my American Express card (rather than paying for it out of pocket, as I’d planned to do), AMEX went in for the kill when I called and reported the antics described in these parts. They not only refunded my money, but they seem to have so intimidated the vendor that the crooks have never come and retrieved their clunk of a refrigerator.

In the meantime, I called a repairman who, with what we might call minimal effort (all that was needed was one, count it: 1 screwdriver!) managed to get rid of the contraption’s most annoying noises. Upshot: even though I surely would prefer a better unit, what I have now does work and does not require me to close the bedroom door to sleep at night.

Hence there’s no hurry to run out and buy another refrigerator. Eventually, I will. But…not now.

The message being, I reckon: ALWAYS charge major purchases on a major credit card! No matter whether you pay for the purchase on time, or in one fell swoop.


Hmmmmm…. Lookee here: I need to put up new Cat Barriers.

Tony the Romanian Landlord’s “Other Daughter” (as opposed to the one he calls his “Pretty Daughter”), who lives two houses to the west of the Funny Farm, is a cat lady. She collects the damn things — it seems to be one of her psychoses. When I had a vegetable garden, the beasts hopped over the fence and converted it to their personal outdoor sandbox…rendering all the veggies I was growing inedible. Tried putting mouse traps along the top of the wall, but the cats had no problem negotiating their way past those things. So now I strap strips of carpet tacks to the decorative row of block that tops the wall. This DOES work effectively to keep the little darlin’s out.

Looks weird. Annoys the Hell out of me. But annoys me one helluva lot less than cat shit in the veggies.

Surprisingly, they’ve lasted quite a long time — several years. But after all this time, the weather has pretty well done them in. So…before it gets hot outside, I’d better take them down and replace them with fresh strips.

Another little household task I could bestir myself to take on — before it gets hot! — is fertilizing the roses, which haven’t been fed in several seasons.


Aaaaahhh shee-ut! Cop Copter just barged over, flyin’ low.

He seems to have moved right on, though: probably headed to the scene of a crime in some other precinct.

I am soooooooo tired of the endless round after round after round of Events here! If I could move away, I would be outta here so fast it would make your proverbial head spin.

Where would I go?

Ideally…Oro Valley, a suburb of Tucson nestled against the foothills of the Santa Rita mountains. Less than ideally but probably OK: Prescott, once the state capital but now your basic tourist trap. Both venues are very pretty…relatively low in crime…large enough to possess most of the amenities one would like in an urban environment (adequate medical care, decent shopping, reliable utilities that don’t require you to truck in propane, something resembling a cultural life, proximity to airports, pleasant enough housing). They offer many qualities that this place doesn’t have and don’t harass you with many of the negative things that you have to put up with here. Like crime, crime, and more crime…

HowEVER… My son is dead set against my moving away from here. I believe he may want this house, which is several decades newer than his place, or that he wants me and his dad to stay within easy driving distance as we stumble deeper into senescence. Neither of us is more than about 10 minutes from his place, and our location puts each of us within easy shooting distance of not one but two major hospitals.

Oro Valley and Prescott; either one is a good two- to three-hour drive from here. Even Fountain Hills, which is conveniently close to the Mayo and many a mile from the local blight, is about 45 minutes away. One-way. I expect he realizes that if I were to move, it would be to someplace a good long way from these precincts.

Ohhh well. Speaking of moving on: up, up, and awayyyy!

A New Day from Hell: Four in the Morning

How come…???

How come every step along the way has to be a fight?
How come you can’t even sleep through the night?

(oh! it’s a poem!)

Craparoonies! It’s 4:00 a.m. No…actually, coming on to 5:00 a.m. now. Already I’ve been awake over an hour.

  • My stomach hurts from the aspirin I took because the pain from the gimpy hip woke me up.
  • I’ve flown into a high screaming rage because I droppped the Costco-size bottle of aspirin on the kitchen floor and the goddamn pills exploded all across the kitchen floor.
  • The damn computer died because I didn’t notice it was unplugged.

But on the brighter side, no data was lost in the crash. Leastwise not that I’ve noticed.

  • The damn computer has decided that a lower-case i should be appear with a strange little checkmark in place of the dot over the i.
  • But when I elected to bellyache about that here, the phenomenon disappeared, leaving me to look like the idiot I no doubt am.
  • The dog is terrorized because I flew into a high rage when the entire bottleful of aspirin scattered across the kitchen floor, much of it rolling under the nonfunctional fridge.

But on the brighter side, it’s quiet over at Tony the Romanian Landlord’s Home for Juvenile Delinquents.

But on the dimmer side, that would be because he’s got some guy over there deconstructing and rebuilding the place, no doubt to accommodate new nuisances.

Speaking of Tony’s Nuisances, last night some jerk in a TOTALLY UNMUFFLED vehicle putzed up to that house and sat there pumping the gas pedal: roar roar roar ROAR ROAR!!!!!  Eventually he toddled on up to Gangbanger’s Way, where you could hear him roaring back and forth in the drag races up there.

Where ARE the cops when you need them?

I need to move out of this neighborhood. My son, who is too busy to register just what actually is going on here, is dead set against it. Fighting him is beyond my energy level right now. I may just quietly sell the place without his knowledge and send him a change-of-address card whenever I get ensconced somewhere else. Because…

This fukkin’ stuff has GOT to stop. I can’t continue to live with the Tony situation.

  • Meanwhile, the fukkin’ rip-off refrigerator continues to rattle and buzz and clunk away. No word from AMEX on getting my money back from B&B Appliances, the crooks who sold me the damn thing.
  • Best Buy has decided nothing will do but what they have to send some lady over here to negotiate over the fridge I propose to buy there.

What exactly I’m supposed to do with the clunk delivered by the B&B thieves, I do not know.  Maybe just have Gerardo dump it out in the alley? If I could find someone who wanted a refrigerator for, say, a car repair garage or a school or a charity — where no one is trying to sleep at night to the sound of its unending serenade, I would donate it. But you CAN’T donate large items anymore. Goodwill no longer picks stuff up. So that thing is just going to have to get dumped in the alley for the metal scavengers…assuming I can find someone to haul it out to the alley.

But waitwait! It appears that the Salvation Army, unlike Goodwill, still DOES come by your place…  Hallelujah, brothers and sisters!

It being 5 in the morning, I can’t call and confirm that. But at least there’s some hope for dealing with one of the unending series of hassles and headaches. If I can donate the damn thing, I should be able to take the $750 rip off my taxes.

Eating? Who needs to eat? We don’t need to steenking eating! Just let ′em take the money…and forget the food.

Wanted: Indiana Jones for Senior Consumers

One of the many joys (yes: that’s /s/) of aging is the attitude of Americans toward the elderly. This ranges from the nasty to the predatory: overall, Americans regard their older compatriots as idiots, negligible fools, and nuisances. One aspect of this is said to be that merchandisers all across the board target the elderly (when they notice us at all) for scams and rip-offs.

It’s true: they can and do pull the wool over your eyes more often and more easily, because older people tend to be more trusting. And if experience serves…that opinion appears to be true. I do not remember vendors, back in the day of my Misspent Youth, trying to cheat me, people trying to feed me ridiculous and obvious lines of bull, salespeople trying to overcharge me as a routine matter…and on and on.

The business with the junk refrigerator is a case in point. Nothing more has been heard from AMEX about that fiasco — one of the several “fun” chores on the slate for today is to call American Express and rattle their cage about that. Meanwhile, I need to buy another refrigerator — one that doesn’t keep me awake all night rattling and roaring…which will set me back another $1400.

It useta be… that when I wanted something, I would do the research on-line and in consumer publications; then go into a store and say I want this and this and this, and I do NOT want that and that and that. The sales person would appear to understand plain English, and s/he would show me this and this and this and NOT show me that and that and that.

Now that I’m Old, though…EXACTLY the opposite happens. Sales people seem to assume that I’m naive, stupid, and just plug-incompetent.

When, O dear merchandiser, when you insist on hustling me to buy something that is not what I asked for, and when I can see that what I asked for is right there on the floor, then I perceive that you’re trying to rip me off. (Yes: upselling me when I know exactly what I want IS a form of rip-off, thankyouverymuch.) And, my friends…that perception happens more and more often with every passing month of age. How can I count the ways that I’m sick & tired of nitwits trying to rip me off when they decide that because I’m old, I must be stupid?

At this point…seriously: I would be willing to pay a fee to someone who would go to the vendors in town to do the shopping I need to have done — I would PAY YOU to order a refrigerator for me. I would PAY YOU to buy me a new microwave. I would PAY YOU to take my car to the dealership, get it serviced, and repel all offers of unnecessary work. I would PAY YOU to get the plumbing fixed. Because even if I paid you for those things, I would save money…and also escape a great deal of aggravation and frustration.