Coffee heat rising

The Ineffable Impossibility of Covid-19 Vaccination…

Speaking of prepping, as we were yesterday, this morning I tried (again!) to make an appointment through the Arizona Department of Health Service’s web portal for covid vaccination. Here’s what happened:

I went all the way through DHS’s appointment calendar TO THE END OF JUNE — and even tried a few dates in July — and for every single search got a “no events open” reply. Either the system doesn’t work, or they are 100% booked through the beginning of July. And, presumably, beyond.

Each search requires 11 clicks-and-waits. Over and over and over. So to search through to the end of June requires 1,837 clicks-and-waits, only to be told “NO” about 30 days a month, for all hours of the days and nights.

If something comes up that you have to leave your computer and attend to something else, to return to the search you have to jump through the ENTIRE SERIES OF SIGN-UP HOOPS AGAIN. The system doesn’t remember anything more than a few slots of data, so you have to plod through that whole rigamarole again to restart your search, filling in dozens of slots and replying to irrelevant and intrusive questions.

How hard do you suppose it would be for DHS to post a calendar showing when the next available dates are? If such a thing exists, it’s not evident on their website.

By the end of June, the plague probably will be over. So presumably if you live that long, you won’t need a vaccination — that’s some comfort. I guess.

How hard, really, would it have been to simply fund dry ice containers for pharmacies in each ZIP code? Having been through pharmacy school, surely the employees at these sites would be clever enough to understand how to keep the vaccine frozen, and why. Yes, it would be expensive. But it couldn’t cost much more than funding a laughable, almost unnavigable website and paying legions of healthcare workers to staff centralized sites that are open 24/7.

Preppin’ Time!

So yesterday I batted from pillar to post, partly to get a couple of routine errands done but also to…ohhh yes! Stock up for the next chapter of the Armageddon Chronicles.

{sigh} I’m afraid I’m becoming a prepper of the first water.

Water, in fact, was one of the issues.

Here’s the thing: Starting along about on the 17th and going at the least through January 20, I expect we’re going to see rioting and vandalism in the streets of every major city in the land. This civil unrest, inspired by our fine outgoing wannabe emperor, will disrupt commerce. And it may disrupt one helluva lot more than that.

Here in lovely uptown Phoenix, for example:

Water. I live around the corner from the water processing plant that serves the better part of the central city. The place is essentially unprotected, except for an ineffectual wall around it. To cut off the flow of water to thousands of city residents, all a person would have to do is fly a small plane up here and drive it into the ground at that plant.

If suicide were not your thing, you wouldn’t even have to do that: a well-guided drone with a bomb attached to it would do the job.

Electric. The power (as well as Internet service) goes out here every time you bat your eye. All it takes is one good monsoon storm with winds that don’t anywhere near approach hurricane velocity to knock out power to large tracts of the city. Sabotaging the power grid, then, could not be very difficult.

Transit. That one’s vulnerable in two ways. First, of course, is “Electric,” above. Shut off the power and you shut off the traffic signals. Shut off the traffic signals, and you have chaos on every city street. But more to the point: the freeway system here carries the bulk of local and intercity traffic. When one stretch of freeway closes down, the surface streets on both sides are jammed to a standstill for a mile or more on both sides. And how hard would it be to disable those freeways? Lemme tellya how easy it would be:

All you’d need are a half-dozen home-made bombs with enough power to bring down a freeway overpass or blow a hole in the pavement. Set them on timers so they all go off at the same time. Put one on State Route 51 about at Northern Avenue. Put one on the Interstate 17 at about Camelback Road. Put one on the Loop 101 along about Indian School Road, and another on the same freeway at about Tatum. Another would go on the Interstate 10 somewhere along the Broadway Curve into Tempe.  For good measure you could set one just about anywhere on the 17 northbound toward Anthem. Time them all to go off at once and you will bring the ninth-largest city in the land to a dead stop.

Shutting down transit and jamming every road in the city, then, would mean interruptions in access to…

  • Food
  • Emergency services
  • Medical care (including prescription drugs)
  • Schools

And just about everything else you can think of.

Sooo… I figured I’d better get enough stuff in to last me and the dog for at least a week, maybe more. Because of my ongoing prepper projects, the fact is we have enough in the house to survive on, in a pinch…but probably not in the glorious style to which we have become accustomed. Plus in some prior decluttering frenzy, I threw out my big water carboys. Nothing remained in the house to store water but a few old booze bottles I stashed to use as flower vases. Soo…after a trudge to the credit union, it was off to Lowe’s and waypoints in search of a few plastic carboys in which to pour water.

No.

Lowe’s has no such thing.

No.

The neighborhood Walmart market has no such thing. It does have those cinder-block size containers, but stored on a shelf over my head so that I couldn’t get even one of them down and into a market basket. Gave up in disgust and stalked out, figuring to head down to the water store way to hell and gone at 16th Street and Glendale.

Out the door, cruise through the parking lot toward an exit to a south-bound main drag, and on the way find…say what?! A cute little storefront ice cream AND WATER store. Dart into the reserved parking, shoot in, and…yeah! Get two nice big plastic jugs, and the proprietor filled them for me for free!!!

Zowie! Is God on my side or not?

🙂

While indulging in the whirlwind trip to Walmart, I saw I was not the only prepper grabbing every survival item in sight. People were pushing around carts already half filled with bottled water, and a whole bunch of the other stuff we couldn’t get during the last panic.

At the Lowe’s I grabbed a package of D batteries, but didn’t realize I’m out of C batteries — so today will have to schlep out again to get some of those. My camp lantern runs on D’s, but ordinary flashlights, of course, take C’s. {sigh}

There’s no ammunition in common calibers to be had for love nor money, and hasn’t been for several months. I have enough to fool any wannabe vandals who get close enough to the house for me to take accurate aim. But unless I hit one of the bastards dead (heh!) on and it scares off his pals  (they are pretty cowardly after all, so there’s sorta some hope of that), I won’t be able to hold off a targeted assault for any length of time. That, though, I believe to be extremely unlikely.

But then…who would ever have imagined a phenomenon like Donald Trump was likely?

Not my president…

 

Comfort Food(oid) for Times of Stress

When you’ve had it — had it had it HAD IT — what, really do you want?

Money?

Love?

Peace and  quiet?

God’s hand reaching down out of the clouds and lifting you Heavenward?

Any and all of those would be good. Very good. But really, when you come right down to it, nothing helps like…yes...JUNK FOOD.

Yes. Yes, you’re right. It’s extremely bad for you. But the heck with that noise. Bad as it may be for you, it does make you feel a great deal less crabby.

And here we have one of the finest, most effective, and most delicious comfort food(oid)s ever invented by the human mind: Coconut paletas.

These are treats that faintly resemble a Klondike Bar, only far more delicious and lacking the chocolate. And you can easily make them at home, because, though they look like they’re made of ice cream they’re not. They’re easy and cheap to whip up, and nothing could be more bad for you. Which is to say, nothing could be better for your mood.

A paleta is very much like a popsicle. Some of them are indeed popsicle-like: the strawberry varieties, for example. Some of them are a little more exotic. Among these is the coconut paleta, a treat made of sugar plus coconut stuff plus (sometimes) nuts plus…oh what the heck! Throw in some more sugar, because you deserve it!

Here’s what you need to make them:

Coconut Paletas

Popsicle molds, with a stand for them
1 can of coconut milk
1 can of coconut cream
1 pint heavy cream
a handful of nuts (optional)
about 1/3 cup white sugar

Typically, the nuts are almonds, but it doesn’t matter. I’ve been using a fistful of mixed nuts. Pecans would be great. Walnuts would, too. Or pistachios. Whatever.

You’ll need something to mix this stuff up with: a wire whip works well. Or a fork. Or a spoon. Maybe an electric mixer, if you want to go to that much trouble. If you’re adding nuts, a small blender to chop them up is highly desirable.

So, in a medium-size mixing bowl, combine the coconut products, the cream, and the sugar. Finely chop the nuts and toss them in, too. Mix well, so the batter is nice and smooth and non-lumpy.

Fill your popsicle molds with this batter, insert the sticks or holders, secure them upright in their stand, and place them in the freezer. Go away for awhile.

That’s it. In a few hours, you’ll have a bunch of icy sweet treats that are guaranteed to cool your temper enough to stop the steam from shooting out your ears.

You can make these things in just about any flavor you like. You can make them as frozen coffee. You can make them into boozicles. Whatever. You can add stuff to them other than nuts: strawberries, cherries, little angels kissin’ spring.

It’s all, every variety of it, so much better than a sick dog; locked-down veterinarians; a busted car; idiots blasting fireworks until three in the morning, starting in the first week of December; stoners drag racing up and down Conduit of Blight Blvd. and across Gangbanger’s Way through the wee hours; a raging plague; a cop helicopter rattling your windowpanes for half an hour; computer do-dads that you do not know how to use and do not want to know how to use; frost on the palm tree; constant discomfort from some chronic ailment you never heard of before; busted plumbing; busted-out drywall; parades of (presumably contagious) workmen traipsing through the house; a glitch in your email system that takes an Apple service manager to figure out and fix (and that, only by guess and b’gawd); a pool dude who feeds your sick dog Milk Bones….

Oh WTF… She’s refused to eat anything else for the better part of a week. Maybe Milk Bones have enough calories to keep her alive for another few hours.

Merry Weird Christmas!

It’s been awhile since I’ve added a post here…under the weather in an alarming way. The new ailment causes typing to make my hands hurt!

LOL! Poetic injustice, isn’t it?

So…this is about the weirdest Christmas I can remember. No, not “about”: THE weirdest. The church — and especially choir — has been closed down for months. Turns out that during an epidemic singing is about the most dangerous thing you can do.

So: Nix on the midnight mass. Nix on the singing. Nix on the Christmas Eve potluck. Nix on Life, the Universe, and All That!

In more pedestrian fields: My hair is halfway to my butt, because I’m afraid to go to the stylist to get it trimmed. Literally, my hair has never been this long, ever. Don’t have much fear of the stylist himself, since he’s a guy with pretty sterling common sense. But you could not pay me to stick my head in a public sink to get my hair washed, with someone lurking over me breathing into my face. I haven’t asked…but if they’d let me show up with wet hair and skip the in-salon hair laundry, I’d probably do it.

Truth is, though, I don’t even know if the beloved Shane is still there or if the salon is still in business. For years, he’s talked about retiring and moving to Prescott, where his family lives. He and his sister bought a house up there to use as a vacation home…he may simply have tossed in the hair-stylist’s towel and left town. Bizarrely, I had an appointment on the first of April, which was right when the whole covid-19 horror descended. My son called and asked me not to leave the house, even to go to grocery stores (or maybe especially not to go to grocery stores. His step-brother and his best friend are both medical doctors, and coincidentally they both phoned him on the same day in a great sweat and told him to keep the old people indoors — that if DXH, New Wife, or I catch this thing, we will be DEAD.

Accordingly, I canceled that appointment, and I imagine a whole bunch of the salon’s other clients did, too.

If you believe their website, they still seem to be operating…but no clue whether the redoubtable Shane still lurks there.

But…now that I have a death-dealing “pre-existing condition” on top of what is regarded as senescence, I guess I’d really rather have eccentric flowing tresses with split ends than risk catching a potentially fatal disease.

Locking oneself up in solitary confinement does, it must be said (à propos of flowing tresses), lead you to diddle away your time on some surprisingly bizarre endeavors.

This morning, as I contemplated the tangle of split ends finishing off the eccentric flowing tresses, I recalled that back in the Dark Ages when I was but a young pup, my mother used to treat my hair and hers with a thick, rich conditioner called “Kolesteral.” It had the consistency of library paste. You massaged it in to your abused tresses, left it to soak for half an hour or 45 minutes, then washed it out. Et voilà! Your hair would be magically transformed!

I think this may be the stuff…

But I thought it was spelled “Kolestral” (or something like that), it was made by Wella, and it definitely came in a tube. But then…so did everything: except for Pond’s cold cream nothing came in a tub. In fact, I don’t think they even made cosmetic jars in plastic like they do today…and a big glass jar like this would have jacked up the price of the product more than any marketer of a low- to mid-priced hair nostrum would have liked.

Not being sure that this really was the original magical mystery hair goop, I set sail for a short cruise across the Internet, in search of laydeez recommending their favorite split-end fixes. And lo! What should I come across but this charming woman!

COCONUT OIL??!!???  Well hot dayum! I’ve got a whole jar of that stuff, sitting on the nightstand! By golly: don’t even have to order some expensive gunk from Amazon!

So as we scribble, I’m sitting here with the oiled tresses wrapped up in a plastic bag, sealed in under a bath-towel turban. We shall see, in an hour or so, how well (or if) this scheme works.

Mwa ha ha! We already know the stuff works superbly as a furniture polish. Why not hair polish, too?

LOL! When I was a little kid, I would have killed to have hair halfway down to my tailbone. But my mother…well…she just WOULD not allow it. No matter how much I begged her to let my hair grow, every two or three months she’d plop me on the kitchen stool and do a hack job on the hair, chopping it off at about ear level. Since the other little girls had their hair done by the lady in camp (we lived in an oil camp in Saudi Arabia) who had worked in a hair salon in her US incarnation and got fancy haircuts in Beirut or Paris when their parents went on leave, this made me look even weirder than I already looked — which as a little girl who wished she was a boy and who was dressed in ugly clothes ordered from the Sears catalog , was pretty damn weird. (Yes: the other little girls got clothes from Paris or, when their parents went to New York on long leave, from Bergdorf’s. Not that I cared: I wanted to be a boy; specifically, I wished to be a space cadet. Or an astrophysicist. Or both.

I do not know what birthed her dread of long, flowing locks on her little girl. It may have been the nuisance factor: she probably didn’t want to listen to me squalling as she yanked out the tangles. Or it may have been a dread of letting me look sexy: sexiness was something to be avoided in her strait-laced world.

Probably, though, she was inspired by abhorrence of our even more strait-laced neighbors, a couple who declared themselves to be extreme Southern Baptists. In their belief system, girls did not cut their hair. They had three daughters, for each of whom they became slightly more liberal as the children grew. The eldest, Ann, was NEVER allowed to cut her hair, ever. By the time she finished the eighth grade (at which point the Aramco school quit and kids had to be shipped either to the American school in Beirut, to a boarding school in Switzerland, or back home to the US for high school), that poor child’s hair hung all the way down to her feet.

The second girl, Mildred, presumably was so inelegantly named that there was little risk of hair sexiness, and so she was allowed to wear her tresses dowdily at about shoulder length. And the third child, a little girl named Helen, was allowed to live and look pretty much like a normal American kid. I believe the pressure on the parents from the other Americans’ disapproval of this silly practice is what led them to allow Helen and Mildred to wear normal hair styles. As for Ann? The instant her feet hit the tarmac in New York when they shipped her home for high school, she was off to a hair salon, where she had the ridiculous mane hacked off.

LOL! Just imagine what those folks would have thought of some woman vlogging from the shower! 😀 About oiling her sexy hair!! 😀 😀

My mother would have fainted dead away. But Mildred’s mother surely would have had a heart attack at first glance.

In another three hours, it’s off to my son’s house, where he proposes to fancify a beef roast. That will be nice. I hope he likes his Christmas present… He asked for a salt cellar. But it had to be a certain size, because he wanted it to perch on the window ledge next to the stove, which is less than one Mexican tile wide.

(Yes. Men do ask for weird gifts.)

So I found a really handsome one that I think will fit there, at (where else) Amazon. Ordered that up…and to my amazement, they sent TWO! So now he’ll have a pair of them. Plus a gigantic plastic jar of Costco’s white salt, plus a gigantic jar of Costco’s cool, picturesque pink salt, which comes with a salt grinder on the side.

He’ll never run out of salt. That’s something. I guess…

 

Loafing for Levity…

Well, I suppose if you have a good work ethic, there’s nothing funny about loafing. But for Funny, loafing has become an avocation. If someone would pay for loafing, I surely could earn a six-figure salary at it.

It’s 1:30 in the afternoon. Yes. I have accomplished one (1) useful task today: set a new pair of shoes delivered by Amazon out in the sun to kill off any lurking viruses. After a couple hours, I’ll try them on. But upon inspecting them, I feel pretty sure they’ll fit. They’re pretty cute, which translates into “come what may, I’m makin’ these things fit.”

Well, I exaggerate the superbness of today’s loafing activities. In fact, I did bestir myself to haul a basket of trash to the alley. Whew!!! And turned the hose faucets on long enough to soak a few backyard plants. Wow!

And right now we’re waiting for a chunk of frozen spinach to warm up on the grill to the point where I can toss on a slab of steak and a corn on the cob, so that with any luck all of those will get done at once.

Lookit this gem of news…  Good grief!

SDXB almost bought a house right near that corner — Tatum and Grovers. It’s a tract of mid-middle-class homes. The place he looked at was very nice — perfect for his needs, actually, and not far from where his daughter was living at the time. As luck had it, he just happened to stumble across the house here in the ’Hood that he ultimately bought.

A-a-n-d… In the drama department, this morning the Fire Department pulled up to my neighbors’ house again! Second time in what? Three days? One of the folks across the street must be having some cardiac issues. I wonder where their son is…he’s usually in the offing. When he visits, he likes to come barging into their driveway and lean on his car’s horn. 😀

As I was out there rubbernecking, Josie the present owner of SDXB’s former house waltzed past, towed along by her Dog du Jour. She and the adult live-in daughter favor small chihuahua-mix mutts. I’ve not seen this one before. It was definitely giving her a run for her money, dragging her up the road like a race-horse harnessed to a buggy.

Ohhhhhh gawd…

So here i yam figuring to get going and get something done. Screw it…pouring another cup of coffee.

What. A. Place!!!!

First chore of the day: haul the trash out to the alley garbage can. This entails unlocking and relocking not one but two padlocked gates.

As I’m wrestling with the first of the locks, a LARGE bright ORANGE helicopter roars over, flyin’ mighty low. It sails over Conduit of Blight and settles in for a landing, either at the freeway or between the freeway and Blight. No melody of sirens from the streets.

Hm. Orange???????

Medevac helicopters here are either white or, sometimes, black. The big combat helicopters flying out of the Air National Guard base are black. And they always fly in formation, not just as one solitary unit…. Hm. Haven’t seen it take off again…but I’m pretty sure it did land over there somewhere. Sooo….wtf now?????

Honestly. There is just never a f*ckin’ dull moment around this place!

Anyway: trash, alley…cat’s-claw vines growing up and over the back wall, thereby providing a privacy barrier that can’t be beat:  The goddamn rats are killing those vines!!! Where they’ve built their runway along the base of the back wall, apparently they’ve sheared off the upright stems of the vine jungle. Result: the lower third part of that wall of vines is DEAD. And before long, all the rest of it will be dead, too.

Gotta get rid of those rats.

The only way I can see to do it is going to be to board the dog for a month or two and lay poison bait out in back. The trapping project is all very gratifying, sure enough: but all too obviously not getting rid of the whole population. The other option is to have Gerardo pull out all that shrubbery, which will create a Mess from Hell.

In the first place, Gerardo has a large trailer for hauling debris to the landfill…for which he has to pay $50 per visit, not including the cost of diesel to run his truck halfway to Black Canyon City. Those vines will fill that thing at least three and maybe four times over. As you can imagine, he will not be thrilled by the prospect of any such job.

In the second place, those vines have been growing on that wall since LONG before I moved in here…a good 15 years ago. They are OLD GROWTH vines, no question of it. That means they’ve been sinking their little cat-claws into the antique block on that wall, which means they will have eroded and dug into it…meaning that the wall will have to be repaired and probably painted. Not to mention the fact that without those vines, every bum who stumbles up the alley can peer over the wall into my backyard — say goodbye to skinny-dipping in the pool! Plus of course they can easily see the man-sized doggy door carved into the house’s back wall, a gigantic invite that reads BURGLARS ENTER HERE!

The only reliable way I can see to get rid of the rats is to lay out poison bait.

That will mean Ruby will have to be boarded somewhere else for three or four weeks. And even then…??????  All she’ll have to do is find ONE piece of bait or bite into ONE dead rat, and she will be joining our little pals in Rat Heaven. The risk of putting poison bait around the yard is, I think, just too great, unless I get rid of the dog permanently.

Which I most certainly do NOT want to do.

Problem with the traps is that they catch more birds than they do rats. That means I have to be here all the time the traps are set, so as to free each trapped bird before it breaks a wing flapping around hysterically. Which is, in a word, impractical.

In other pestiferous regions…  In just came an IMPORTANT ANNOUNCEMENT!!!!!!!!! from the church. One of the full-time staff members has tested positive for the Killer Disease. That means the entire church staff and any clergy and any volunteers who have been in the office over the past two weeks have been exposed to it.

So they’re having to shut down all the church operations!

Sooooooo…how smug, self-satisfied and glad AM i that i crabbily refused to go back in for front-office telephone duty when they reopened the church office? Lemme tellya how smug self-satisfied and glad I yam! Whew!!!

I declined to go back because of my extreme susceptibility to respiratory infections, which has been a lifelong Thing for me. What for you may be a minor cold is for me something that will take weeks or even months to throw off, during which time I can be very sick, indeed. I sure don’t wanna do that with this covid thing!

This morning we’re told Arizona has FOUR THOUSAND new cases of the coronavirus.

The church has a loyal full-time staff of four people who are not clerics who go in 8 hours a day, 5 days a week…meaning all of them have certainly been exposed, since there’s a big old centrally located kitchen/office equipment area (with a fridge and a stove and a microwave) and of course men’s and women’s rooms. And it also means that any of the Frontline volunteers (that was my group…) who have been going in to help out are also exposed.

Not that we’re not all exposed anyway: all it takes, presumably, is a trip to the grocery store.

Still…given how gawdawful sick an ordinary cold or (especially!) flu can make me, I sure don’t want to catch this current disease. If avoiding it means annoying my friends and associates…well, I guess they’ll just have to be annoyed.