Coffee heat rising

Another Fine Day in Crime Central

Jayzus, what a day!

We’re awakened at dawn to the tune of the neighborhood watchdog, Will, urging us on Facebook to stay inside! lock the doors and windows! do NOT go outdoors! and don’t answer the doorbell either!

Turns out a murder has taken place just a few blocks to the north of the ‘Hood, in a historic slum neighborhood called Sunnyslope. Cops are swarming. And yes, it’s just another morning in Crime Central.

Shee-ut. This means Ruby and I can’t do today’s doggy-walk. And for that matter, we can’t loaf around the yard with the doors open, either.

WTF?  Well, it was just another day in lovely Sunnyslope. Yet another guy was on the run from the cops, having shot a fellow denizen in his pickup. Shot him dead….nice aim.

The perp fled down the canal….the very canal that runs up behind those cute little antique workers’ houses I was, in passing, coveting.

Couple days ago, a not-very-smart young woman was jogging on the same canal pathway. Nabbed, raped, and thrown in the drink.

Fortunately a passer-by found her and fished her out of the water before she was drawn into one of the weirs, which would’ve been the end of her.

Y’know….this ain’t politically correct, but…i will be dayumed if I can figure out why women figure that “liberated” means “free to wear skimpy outfits over their nubile and sexy bodies as they trot up and down public streets with their boobs and their bums bouncing.” PoliticallyCorrectly, sure: in theory we should be able to do anything the guys can do. But that ignores biological reality: to wit, that some males see any female as fair game and no amount of Liberation will change that fact. The reason you wear clothes that cover your body is to keep your body to yourself, as much as possible.

Dare to say that, though, and…

§ §

Yesterday on the (incredibly long) way home from the dermatologist’s office, I managed to dodge whatever was going on at Conduit of Blight and Main Drag South. Place was swarming with cop helicopters and patrol cars. Whipped into the ’Hood and made it into the garage without incident. Which is always nice.

Derm was pleased with the way the schnozz is healing, after the surgery to slice off an alleged carcinoma. She wanted me to buy some scar cream to help with that process — sold, of course, by their office. Fortunately I’m now on to their business plan: so, when presented with an opportunity, asked how much. FIFTY-EIGHT BUCKS. Thanks, said I. Bye!

Drove home, stopping at two drugstores and a supermarket. At least one didn’t have it. The other two didn’t have staff to help find stuff. Dodged the cops into the ’Hood, darted into the Funny Farm, fired up Amazon, and lo!! As suspected, there was the very stuff the doctor ordered: Forty bucks. 

Any question why I so often feel like I live in a Third-World country?

After driving driving driving, I arrive at home, greeted by a corgi. Dust settles. Dog goes out. I pour a glass of wine. Cop copters roar over the Farm.

Call the dog. Shut and lock the doors. Pour another glass of wine.

Another armed robbery….nothin’ to look at here, folks. This, also, in lovely Sunnyslope: right where I’ve been coveting those cute little old houses with the gigantic yards.

Soooo…there’s another real estate transaction that goes on the shelf. Waaayyyy in the back of the shelf….

§ §

Come noontime today, it’s over to the church for the volunteer gig: once a week I staff the reception desk in the church office.

Sitting at the front desk in the church office building, putting in my duly appointed volunteer time. Gasp!!!!!  It is sooooo excruciatingly b-o-o-o-o-r-i-n-g! Even more so because everyone but the ubiquitous Nanette is out, apparently all day. NOTHING is going on, not even the phone jangling.

Stupidly, I grabbed the wrong pair of glasses as I shot out the front door…the distance-only pair, not the bifocals. Soooo….I can barely see the computer I brought to amuse myself through the long, silent, tedious afternoon.

So the time goes by

very…

very…

very…

s-l-o-o-w-l-y……

From the church it’s down to AJ’s to pick up some more fruit and…maybe something for dinner, since I don’t feel much in the mood to fire up the grill.

The smog is so gawdawful the sunlight looks yellow, and the sky is colored a strange shade of yellowish gray. Just like lovely Southern California. This was one of the several reasons I loathed living in Long Beach. Driving here has gotten a lot like driving in SoCal, too.

Just an ugly place. Yech.

If my son decides to retire to Utah and I’m still living, I’m a’following him!

Seriously: he has a daydream of telecommuting from some sylvan spot in the boondocks. He’s especially interested in southeastern Utah or southwestern Colorado. And since, far’s I can tell, he no longer goes into an office at all, really there’s no reason he couldn’t do exactly that: move to the sticks and do his job online.

I personally would not choose to take up residence in Mormon Country. Doubt if he has a clue how hard it is to buy a bottle of wine in those precincts.

But seriously: Arizona has some very pleasant towns and wide-spots-in-the-road in the sticks, where the locals’ morals don’t interfere with your choice of dinner beverages and a decent regional medical center is within a 20-minute helicopter ride. Anyplace between Tucson and Nogales would fill that bill very nicely. Same is true of the Prescott area.

But as for Phoenix? It’s L.A. East.

And lemme tellya: there was a reason I hated living in Long Beach, all the time I was in high school. Now I feel much the same way about the crowded, hectic, smoggy, crime-ridden Valley of the We-Do-Mean Sun.

This old bat would give a lot to get outta here.

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.

The State of the…Whatever-We’ve-Got-Here…

Today’s Quora post:

What are your thoughts on Dr. Fauci telling reporters that America might still be battling smallpox and polio if today’s kind of misinformation existed back then?

Unstuck in Time

Disequilibrium, indeed. More like “unstuck in time,” I fear.

I’ve disliked the modernified Scottsdale Fashion Square for some years. Once a pleasant place to shop in tony venues, in recent years it has been upgraded to “contemporary”…another word for “cold,” “hard-edged,” “noisy and echoey,” “engineered to feel hectic,” and…well…”not a place you’d like to hang out if you had some other choice.” So by and large I stay away from it, because a visit there usually devolves into an annoyance of one sort or another.

But…my MacBook needs some attention. Actually, what it needs is a compatible external hard drive, preferably one designed to work with Mac equipment.

Apple kindly closed its store in Biltmore Fashion Park, which was at least moderately civilized. Their other store, in Arrowhead Mall, is too small for its clientele: every time you go there, you find yourself waiting interminably for help, crammed in elbow-to-elbow with a whole bunch of other glassy-eyed folks who are waiting interminably.

So. Let’s try something altogether different, in the Apple Department.

After I seethed my way back across the city and got back into the house, I searched Google for independent Mac technicians, and lo! Found several. One over at 32nd Street & McDowell answered the phone and said to come on in any day this week.

He said to call in the morning of the day I’d like to meet him and make an appointment then. So…by tomorrow I should have regained part of my sanity — whatever is left of it — and so I’ll arrange to get this thing over to him and get HIM to fix it.

Orrrr… As for the hard drive? Says he: it needs to be formatted for the Mac.

Who knew?

Where was I in my planned rant?

Yes, the uglified Scottsdale Fashion Square. It is a long drive from the Funny Farm through unpleasant traffic: a good 30 to 40 minutes, outside of rush hour. When you get there…I swear…every time you surface over there, they’ve changed things around and fucked things up. Now you have to navigate past a trolling valet parking service to make your way up into a high-rise parking garage. Memorize where you left the car. Find the steps or elevator. Memorize which set of steps you used to get down to the ground floor. Then hike.

And hike. And hike.

The Apple store is ALLLLL THE WAY ON THE FAR SIDE of the freshly ugly mall, forcing you to walk up and down steps, through hectic crowds, past endless kiosks selling junk, all the time accosted by the loudest echoing racket you ever hoped never to have to hear. The atmosphere is cold, snobby, overpriced, hectic, and annoying.

Finally I get there. I tell the service rep I have an appointment. I explain that the Macbook won’t talk to the hard drive so there’s no question of backing up data: it just can’t be done. She gives me a blank look. For all the world, it appears that she doesn’t understand what I’m talking about.

I try again: “I would like to buy an external drive that is compatible with this Macbook — preferably one that is made by Apple.”

Blank look.

After another try, I give up.

Furious, I stalk back to the car and head back out through the ever-evolving landscape that is the ever-Los Angelizing Valley of the We-DO-Mean Sun.

Yechhh!

Remember when malls were fun to shop in?

Remember when customer service was not more aptly called customer disservice?

Remember when Apple had awe-inspiring, blow-you-away, superb customer service?

The present angst is, I am quite sure, because I am unstuck in time: a creature of another age. And I can tell you for damn sure, the present age is not one I would like to live through much longer. What a flikkin’ dystopia we inhabit!

Driving homeward, homeward, ever homeward across the east/west main drag that in Ritzyville is called “Lincoln Boulevard” and in mittel-America is called “Glendale Road,” (interesting how rich folk get more characters for the words used to describe their thoroughfares, no?), it struck me that the whole city has changed significantly over the past five or six years. Not as annoyingly or as extremely as Scottsdale Fashion Square, but still…a lot. Mostly, in the regions I drifted through, in the form of gentrification of already pretty damn fancy houses. All along the way, houses have been fancified, dandified, and — often — ripped down and replaced with ultra-modern mansions painted eye-searing white.

Neighborhoods are recognizable, but…different.  The whole city is recognizable but different, I guess. Most of it, anyway.

So… Yah. I guess the issue here is that I’m unstuck in time. Living IN the here and now, but not OF the here and now. I feel like I’m afloat in a fluid reality. That which is real is not what was real.

Some squib on the vicissitudes of advancing senility that I read the other day said that one of the ways to stave off dementia is to drive around new neighborhoods. In this city, driving around old neighborhoods is driving around new ones. 😀 Seriously: it was kinda fun cruising through old stomping grounds that no longer look quite the same, and then sliding through the new stomping ground and finding previously undiscovered short-cuts and pass-throughs. If this activity staves off Alzheimer’s, I guess I’ll be buying a whole lot more gas. For awhile, anyway…

“Another Beautiful Day in Arizona…”

Yep: “Another beautiful day in Arizona! Leave us all enjoy it!” That was the catch phrase of the late, great Arizona Governor Jack Williams, an accomplished if less than perfectly literate local politician who came up as a radio announcer. In spite of last night’s mostly dry thunderstorm, temps here have run upwards of 112 degrees. Once I glanced at the thermometer in the back porch shade: 115.

Plan of the day: Install a new bed in the now-unused middle bedroom, which was the TV room until off-the-air TV was taken away from us. Now it just sits there…but, I’ve noticed, because the room is directly below the central air-conditioning unit and so gets air fresh out of the fridge, it is the coolest room in the house. The plan is to get an inexpensive but reasonably comfortable twin bed and sleep in that room during the summer months. Then switch back to the more spacious and comfortable queen-sized bed in the master bedroom for fall, winter, and springtime. And so into the heat and on the road.

I whip into the mattress store where, in the past, I’ve bought excellent products for decent prices — not rock-bottom, but far from “luxury” prices.

Holy shee-ut! EIGHT HUNDRED DOLLAH for a regular twin-size mattress, box-spring, and frame.

I kid you not! That is what I paid for the queen-sized bed I bought when the old one wore out, just a few years ago.

Jayzus.

Out of that place, I do stagger.

Should I venture across the street to Bed Bath & Beyond, there to snab a set of sheets for this spectacular purchase?

I think not. In the first place, my experience with BB&B is that they tend to be overpriced. In the second place, they tend to be underqualitied. I decide, WTF, to drive out to Costco and grab a set there.

This was very, very stupid. Extraordinarily stupid. Gold-medal-winning stupid!!!!!!!

Best way to get out there?  Across Lincoln, the northernmost main drag south of the Phoenix Mountain Park, then up 44th through lovely Paradise Valley, and zip! into the parking lot.

Almost sounds sane, doesn’t it?

Eastbound on Lincoln at 24th street, the main road that disgorges central- and central/east traffic onto Lincoln, some nitwit has contrived to have a fender-bender in the fast lane. Traffic in all three lanes comes to a stop as the very pretty young woman driver gets out to try to cope…and is swarmed by Heroic Gentlemen charging to her rescue.

This would have some charm if it weren’t 111 degrees outside just then. In the shade.

So the Damsel in Distress and all of her many Knights have the traffic dead stopped. I’ve been around this block before, though, and so am wily enough to dart left into the entrance of a (spectacularly ritzy) gated community, where I can hang a U-ie and head back in the direction I came from.

Now I am westbound when I need to go east.

But on the way, I think WTF, I’ll just fly into the Macy’s at Biltmore Fashion Square. At this time of year, they’re bound to be having a white sale.

And yea verily, that they are!. Have you ever noticed that when a major department store puts stuff on sale, it’s because said stuff is junk, serious junk, that NO ONE in their right mind would buy? Today, this is true in spades. You would NOT believe the crappiness of the hilariously dreadful crap on offer.

Onto the freeway. Northerly northerly northerly and OFF on Cactus, eastbound.

Easterly easterly easterly, past the Fry’s. If I had any sense I’d derail this trip to go in there and buy a set of cheapie junk sheets, but…

a) I have no sense; and
b) I figure that kinda cheap junk may last through three launderings, if we’re lucky.

Hang a left on Tatum. Northerly northerly northerly…FINALLY reach the Costco. They will have sheets. They always have sheets. Right? And they’re excellent quality sheets, the kind of thing you can hand down to the next generation as heirlooms.

Well.

No.

I frikkin cannot BELIEVE it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Costco does not have regular-size twin sheets! The only twin sheets they have are for extra-long mattresses.

Stalk out into the parking lot. Eyeball the Penney’s next door. They’re closing that Penney’s, because they’re about to tear down the shopping center and replace it with an apartment development. Whooo knows? Maybe they’ll have sheets. Maybe even sheets on sale!

Hike across the broiling asphalt, dodge into the Penney’s.

They’ve shut down the escalators. You can’t even GET to the bedding department. And noooo, I’m not getting onto a crowded stuffy stinky elevator in Time of Plague.

Make my way upstairs and find, in the bedding department, one of the most superbly certifiably stupid CSR’s I’ve ever met, in 55 years of department-store shopping. OOOOhhh this one is dumb. I cannot make her understand that no, I do not want something that does not fit, and noooo I do not want something with a weird busy little pattern that looks a lot like E. coli organisms under a microscope. All I want is a set of twin-size sheets in a plain boring color. Gray would do. White would do. Beige would do. No, bright pink will NOT do. And absolutely positively the Escherchia coli germs will not do, no way no how.

😀

Back in the car.

On the way out of the shopping center, stop at the Target. Why the hell not? Couldn’t be any worse than what we’ve already seen, eh?

There I meet the cutest li’l gay guy, who also is shopping for bedding. He is similarly disgusted. But he does point out a few sets that…uhm…do not offend too much.

Grab one of these and fly out the door. Price is around 80 bucks. Yes. For a set of freakin’ Target sheets!!!!!!!!!

Stumble back out. Dodge a few fellow homicidal drivers in the parking lot (would those be “homicidal parkers”?), make it back onto Cactus, and start driving. Westerly westerly ever westerly. Migawd, it’s STILL hot!

No. Make that “even hotter.”

Here at the Funny Farm:

  • It’s 81 in the master bedroom. It’s 84 here in the family room.
  • It’s 80 in the bedroom where I propose to install this fine new bed, but for some reason it feels a lot cooler.

That’s with the thermostat set at 79, as low as I figure I can push it without risking bankruptcy.

And as I sit here scribbling, in comes an email from one Priscilla Castro of the dermatologist’s office, wanting to discuss the results of the latest effing biopsy, one she made of a mole that has resided on the side of my nose for as long as I can remember. They’ve decided the thing is malignant. This, of course, means ANOTHER endless trip to the far west side for MORE surgery. Hot diggety dawg.

I call back instantly. “She’s not at her desk,” says the airhead who answers the phone. Odd. She was there 30 seconds ago when she emailed me.

Airhead says she’ll call me back. I explain, for the 89 berjillionth time, that they CAN NOT REACH ME BY PHONE because I block all incoming calls from area code 623 because I get rafts of nuisance calls from telephone solicitors EVERY DAY spoofing the 623 area code. As usual, the phone kid doesn’t even faintly understand what I’m saying. Sheeeeeee-ut!

By now I’m tired, I’m beyond hot, and I simply have no more patience for stupid.

I’m also kinda scared. One of the things they took off was on the side of my nose. It’s been there for years, to the point where I objected that it couldn’t be much or it would have made trouble by now. Stephanie (derma-tech) said it was “vascularizing,” whatever the hell that means. I think I would’ve noticed if it had changed, since I paint my face almost every day, and that entails hiding blemishes under layers of paint. But if she found cancer in it, they’ll be chopping up my nose. And that will require plastic surgery to repair. And THAT will entail endless trips the west side, disfiguring butchery, and several unpleasant procedures to fix. Email “Priscilla” to clue her that unless she can call me from a phone that doesn’t have a 623 area code, she’ll need to email me.

Shortly, Priscilla calls. She says I need to come in, let them cut the roots of this thing off my nose, and then they will repair the (considerable!) damage with plastic surgery.

I have a friend who’s had a quasi-malignant thing removed from his nose, followed by plastic surgery. “Repair” is not quite the word. Though he doesn’t look terrible, nevertheless you can tell that something pretty drastic happened there. I do NOT want my face cut up and then patched back together, not unless it’s absolutely, positively, unavoidably necessary.

A night passes. Daylight dawns. And I snap out of that little panic long enough to remember my Medical Motto: ALWAYS GET A SECOND OPINION!

At the Mayo, I’ve been assigned a dermatologist, for reasons neither he nor I could grasp. A week or so ago, I traipsed out there and met with him. Liked him. We were both puzzled. I left, thinking “huh!”

Sooo….what could be a better source of a second opinion than the Mayo Clinic, eh?

Yesterday — Saturday, natcherly — I emailed him through the Mayo’s annoying DIY Web “portal” lashup and asked if we could make an appointment, and may I have the Avondale dermatologist send him the results of the biopsy. Of course, I haven’t heard back. I do hope to hear from him tomorrow, and sincerely DO hope he’ll agree to review this little fiasco.

Meanwhile, we still have the Rat Situation.

This, if anything, is getting worse. Over the past couple of days, I’ve stuffed piles and piles of steel wool into the crevices and openings around the side yard deck, of which there are a-plenty. These have become little doorways to Rattie’s nest under there.

Ruby has developed chasing poor Rattie into an Olympic sport. This morning the little dog was standing patiently by the back door.

Human opens door.

Dog ambles quietly out to river of rocks (a decorated drainage ditch, now home to Rattie since we blocked off her entrances to the side deck).

Rattie, alarmed, leaps up.

Dog launches into the chase!

Rattie shoots across the yard, just under the speed of light.

Ruby flashes after her.

Rattie dodges into the cat’s-claw vines.

Ruby saunters back to the door, expecting a Doggy Treat for having orchestrated that spectacle.

This, while entertaining in a predator-ish way, is not really a good thing. Roof rats carry a wide variety of exceptionally malign diseases, which they can  transmit to dogs as well as to humans: murine typhus, leptospirosis, salmonellosis, rat-bite fever, and plague.

{sigh} I’m awfully afraid the only way to get rid of Rattie, short of poison, is going to be to pull out the cat’s claw hedge. And of course, that will mean every bum who wanders up the alley can peer into my yard. And into my pool, where he’s likely to get an eyeful of the local scenery.

So, later this morning I obtained the name of an exterminator from one of the neighbors on the ’Hood’s Facebook page. Will call him the first thing tomorrow morning — Monday.

In passing, she remarked that she preferred to communicate by email than over the FB page, because some of the neighbors work themselves into a state of high moral dudgeon over the prospect of killing our cute little rats. She remarked – confirming my own observation – that the neighborhood is now overrun with rats.

As these shenanigans are en train, I happen to venture into the front yard, where I notice…hmmmm…what?? The mound of gravel-covered dirt that was piled over the stump of the dead ash tree I had cut down, lo! these many years ago, has been pushed aside and dug up. There are little holes around in there.

WTF?

Rats?

That’s what I suspect. But…on closer observation, I see several holes in the depression where the stump has pretty much disintegrated. These are larger than the holes Rattie typically digs. Gopher?

Hm. Yes, we do get the occasional gopher here in the ‘Hood.

A-a-a-n-d…my scheme to block Rattie out of her nest under the deck has failed. Just this minute I hear Ruby YAP and thump against the Arcadia door: her signal for the Presence of the Rat.

dayum!  Leap up, RUN with Ruby to the garage’s side door, and let her rip!

She shoots out like a rocket, patrols the base of the deck…but Rattie is long gone. However, she finds a new hole: Rattie has managed to burrow out of (or into) her nest under the deck.

That, I’m afraid, tore it: now I know I’m going to HAVE to get a professional exterminator. Tomorrow I’ll call the neighbor’s guy.

This, of course, is going to mean Ruby will have to go somewhere else. We can’t have dead and dying poisoned rats laying around the yard, nor can we have poison bait laying around where Ruby holds sway over the backyard. I guess I’ll have to put her up with M’hijito, or else board her somewhere (expensively).

Ohhhhhh gawwwd…pleeeze don’t hurt our little ratties! Aughhh! How do people who are that stupid ever learn to put their pants on, much less acquire a $500,000 to $1 million shack???????

Ain’t a-goin’ nowhere, lady!!!