Coffee heat rising

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…

Rat Wars: Cavalry the Rescue

The enemy

My goodness! You should have SEEN what Gerardo and his crew (a.k.a., his immediate and extended family!) did this morning! .

So…a little background: determined to engage full battle with Rattie, a week ago I asked folks on the RP Facebook Page for recommends for someone who can cope with roof rats. Called the most ecstatically raved-about gent. The guy wanted a thousand dollars to secure the fort against rats and kill off any present occupants.

Don’t think so, brother..

Depressed, call Gerardo. He says, as usual: ay señora, no problema! 

He shows up with his crew, he himself armed for full battle. And those guys worked themselves like freakin’ oxen!.

Gerardo, who in his inimitable way knows what he’s doing (in spades), climbed into the accursed attic. Fatlady followed him up to survey the battleground. Satan had sealed most of the openings with sheets of wire screen. In the gerjillion-degree heat, Gerardo checked every opening, repaired all that which was decrepit, and installed new barriers where necessary. .

His sidekicks, a.k.a. los gentes de la familia, pruned back every tree branch that was within leaping distance of the roof (which was one whole helluva lot), hauled the copious trimmings into the alley, and generally supervised the boss. .

The day

The boss climbed up on top of the freaking chimney(!!!!!), where he was annoyed and disgusted to find piles of rat poop (not unlike cat poop, interestingly enough). He cleaned up that mess, and then he installed a heavy-duty screen barrier across the top of the chimney to keep Rattie and her tribe out — as well, one presumes, as the errant dove and pigeon. .

Jayzus! The heat and the humidity defied belief!.

They cleaned up the entire vast mess and presented what Gerardo clearly thought was a blinding bill: $550, which included $200 for a check that had gotten left under the front-door mat until it melted in the recent rain..

As nothing, IMHO, compared with the other dude’s $1,000 starter fee. Gerardo pledged to keep the barriers in good repair, going forward, and the trees trimmed back from the eaves..

I suggested that he and his crew toss off their togs and take a dip in the pool to cool themselves down in the crushing heat — promising to hide in the bedroom and not disturb their masculine sense of propriety. He would have none of it. .

You realize that Gerardo makes his son — yes, also an Eagle Scout! — work all summer? Yes. He had his kid in tow, heaving and hauling. 😀 No goofing off for that young gent. .

Wow!

Real Estate Through the Roof: Right up with the cop helicopters

Seven a.m. and it’s hotter than a two-dollah cookstove out there. Around 100 degrees, headed for 115. And humid: 21% just now.

Speaking of the loony tunes entailed in living in Phoenix, lookit THIS.

$585,000 for THAT? A tiny little out-of-date bungalow, built in 1941, no pool, fake grass(!!) or else plain dirt, in one of the noisiest parts of the city: 1700 square feet including the guest house(!!). For less than that (by far), you could buy a palatial apartment in my friends’ high-rise right on Central Avenue, with a view of the entire East Valley from Camelback to the South Mountains.

Real estate prices have gone bonkers here. Here’s a bargain: 395 grand to live in 1500 square feet in the middle of Drug Dealer Central. Hoooly mackerel! I wouldn’t get out of my car in that area.

Here in the’Hood, they’re asking $519,000 for an 1839 s.f. house cattycorner up the street from the Funny Farm. That’s just insane. The upshot of it is going to be that property taxes soon will go so high here I won’t be able to afford to stay in this house much longer.

They’ve done a lot of fix-up on that house, clearly with an eye to selling it. Interestingly, I haven’t seen a lot of workmen over there — ever. So he must be pretty handy: presumably they redid the 1970s kitchen themselves, turning it into the latest in stainless and granite.

I’m thinking I should replace the Mexican tile countertops in the kitchen here. Put in slabs of granite. Mexican tile is wildly out of date now, plus it has a crack in one place.

*********

…or maybe not…

*********

Pool Dude showed up about 7:30. Along about then a cop copter starts circling frantically over Upper Richistan. This continues all the time he’s working.

Out of curiosity, we call up the neighborhood Facebook page:

Does anyone know why the police have 11th Ave between Wunderland and Larry’s Lane blocked off? I hope all is well with our neighbors..

Alyssa L: Oh no! I hope everyone is ok too

Donnie DS: There are looking for a man that ran into that block. There were 2 men suspected of assault. They have one in custody already.

Reply: Donnie DS thank you. My husband just spoke with the officers and confirmed the same. The officer said they are looking for someone. While there the police were searching the backpack of the one suspect and found a gun. Police said to remain vigilant. They have brought in a K-9 unit so hopefully they find him quickly.

    • Reply: Laurie L I wish the police would have given you a description so we could possibly assist.

Reply: Carrie B Hispanic Male, Blue shirt, tattoos

Bj U: seems like they’ve got him surrounded in the Donleys’ yard, i can hear them yelling orders

Reply: Bj U I hope so. The officer just told me they may need to be coming into my yard and to have everyone inside doors locked

Reply: Bj U he just told me they’re finishing up.

AC W: My husband was the one involved in the assault. Here’s a picture he took beforehand. He’s still with the police, but this is what he texted me.

“He asked me what I was looking at them and I said I wanted to see where they were going. So he stopped in front of me and told me he’d stay right where he wanted. Then he pulled the handle of the gun up from his waistband. I hit him w my coffee cup and knocked him down. Then his buddy jumped me, and I fought him off as best I could. They took off eastbound on Larry’s Lane and I chased them as far as the firefighter’s house. Then I banged on his door and asked him to call 911.”

AC W: Oh gosh! Hope you’re okay! Glad the police are out in force. Praying for everyone’s safety!!!

Reply: Emily P Glad you guys are okay.

Reply: Wendy R WOW! hope they find them. how scary!! Is your husband ok?

Reply:  AC W He is fine. Just a little scratched up. Apparently the other guys are a bit more beat up. They have one suspect and the gun. The other guy is completely surrounded.

Wendy R Go Phx.PD!

AC W such a scary situation! Glad they have the guys!

Reply: AC W glad your husband is ok. Thankful he is out there looking-after our neighborhood, just hoping something like this doesn’t happen again!

Reply Sid C: AC W glad he’s fine . Thank him from the neighborhood for us. RP sticking together.

[And so on….]

Holy sh!t. Ruby and I were over there about an hour earlier: Upper Richistan is our favorite doggy-walk venue.

See why one of my mottos is “Over my dead body”?

Pool Dude was here throughout the episode.

{sigh} I prob’ly should have gone back to the Hidey-Hole and retrieved my father’s .38. But with PD here, I figured things were probably as OK as they were gonna get. Besides which, you know and I know that Pool Dude undoubtedly does not wander around people’s backyards without resources. And I’m dead sure he can shoot straighter than I can.

Think of that. People are willing to pay upwards of 500 grand (upwards of a million, over in Upper Richistan) to live in…THIS place????

A Dog and Her Burglar

So today I spent vast numbers of hours trying to clean up the mess that is my pile of unpaid bills and adapt to the CU’s horrible wondrous new website.

At one point…well, I wanted to sit on the bed to do this project, partly so I could put my feet up and partly because the bedroom is one of the coolest rooms in the house. Upshot of this strategy: at one point the bed was PILED with stacks and stacks of file folders and loose papers and unopened envelopes my gawd!!!! It took hours to plow through all that stuff, and I’m still not done. I’ve still got to figure out the auto-pays, of course. Plus there are a bunch of unexplained pieces of paper whose significance remains to be explored. Plus of course with this new system I can’t see anything at a glance. So in the future, every time I pay a bill I’m gonna have to make myself remember to scribble PAID on the piece of paper.

I’m thinking what I may have to do, actually, is go back to paying routine bills with paper checks. PITA, but at least the bills can be paid, even if your beloved computer is offline. I’ve always suspected that relying on bank or CU websites to make your financial transactions is a bad idea. But…inertia always wins. Once you get started doing that, your inclination is to keep doing it.

uh oh…..

Yeah…just when everything is making you want to BITE, what could possibly take the cake by way of ending the day?

Got any guesses?

…got fruit?…

Well. Of course: Rattie! It looks suspiciously like she’s decided walk right in and set right down.

We hear a bunch of rustling and scuttling of little clawed feet. At first I think WTF is that dog doing? Then I realize she’s doing nothing: she’s snoozing in her nest in the back bathroom.

I wake her up, telling her that Rattie is in the house. Ruby is pretty well trained now to chase rats, which she apparently thinks are sleazy-looking cats. But…

Ruby, my fierce little ratter, thinks it’s a burglar. This killer dog is terrorized! 

So I’m the first to figure it’s not much of a burglar. Get out to the front of the house, whence the rustling emanates, and find…no burglar. If the scuttling of little claws is not Ruby, then who else could it be?

Yeah: Rattie, o’course.

Set four cage-style rat traps in the family room, dining room, and living room, baited with some agèd grapes and li’l bites of cheese.

Retreat to the bedroom to wait.

Forthwith: scuttle scuttle scuttle!

“It’s RATTIE, Ruby! Let’s GET’ER!!!”

Ruby demurs.

I carry her out to the front of the house. She’s actually, hevvin help us, shivering.

I’ve always needed a ratter that shakes in terror when confronted with a rat… 😀

Put dog down. Dog flees to the back bathroom, hides behind the toilet.

Walk back out there and look around. No rat. Hm.

Scuffle scuffle…from the family room…from the fireplace. Ah! Rattie must have gotten in by falling down the chimney!

Explore. Peek behind the fire screen…and…and…

There inside the fireplace is a tiny little dove!

It’s a ground dove. It must have slipped and fallen down the chimney while it was scavenging at the seed feeder.

Take a lid from a wide-mouthed jar, pour a little water into it, and set it in there.

She ain’t innarested.

Is she too badly wounded to move around?

Nope…turn away and she takes off, flapping frantically in a desperate frenzy. She makes it to the kitchen. I open the kitchen door and also the sliding door. Not innarested.

Now she’s come to light atop the stove. I put a few seeds up there for her — she lets me get so close that if I were a whole lot faster than I am, I could grab her. Put the water thing on the counter. Shut off the AC (it’s effin 103 right this minute), as dusk fades toward (hot!!!!) darkness. Open the kitchen door, the patio door, and the west side door. Walk in and out the kitchen door, hoping that a bird is smart enough to realize that if a human can walk through an opening, said bird can fly through it.

Assuming it hasn’t injured itself so badly it can’t fly.

Well, we know she was able to get on top of the counter where the stove is. So she can’t be completely crippled.

It is, however, getting too dark already for a diurnal bird to navigate. So one doubts that she’ll bestir herself to go out. And if she does, her chances of survivng the night are…somewhat diminished.

Think o’ that, though… I have a watchdog that’s afraid of a six-inch-long bird.

Liberty Wildlife opens on Sunday, believe it or not. 8 a.m. So if she doesn’t get her birdly act together enough to slip out the back door pretty quick, I’ll call them in the morning and maybe will be able to get someone to help catch her. Or at least take her in, if I can catch her.

{sigh}

Ground dove image: Columbina passerina -near Salton Sea, California, USA-8.jpg. Created: 2 February 2011. Alan Vernon Common Ground dove (Columbina passerina) Uploaded by Snowmanradio . Wikipedia.

How Much Is That…Thingie…in the Window?

Cover of the first issue, with the figure of dandy Eustace Tilley, created by Rea Irvin. Source: Wikipedia.

I like to work The New Yorker’s online jigsaw puzzles, which derived from the magazine’s covers dating back to the 1920s. Over the months of time wastery, I’ve kind of marveled at the differences in the cover prices on this magazine. DXH and I used to subscribe to it, throughout the time we were married — along with a bunch of other middle- to high-brow periodicals. Contemplating the completed jigsaw covers, it struck me that the price of the thing has gone up an enormous amount over the years, presumably because of inflation — so much so that today I wouldn’t even think of subscribing. But, wonder I, is that correct? Or am I imagining some sort of Inflationary Chimera? Welp…check this out:Can we track the progress of these price increases?

To look at it another way, today the magazine costs SIX TIMES as much as it cost in 1925.

Is it six times better? Personally, I kinda doubt it. When was the last time you saw a John McPhee article in that rag? Or anything on a par with McPhee’s work? Today when you open it, what you find is something more like a standard city magazine than a middle-brow boulevardier’s journal. It starts out with restaurant reviews and then tells you all about the local entertainment. But reportage raised to the level of art? Not so much.

At nine bucks an issue, I just couldn’t afford the thing. It would be SO much cheaper to drive over to the library once a month and read the latest copies—or to subscribe to the library’s online magazine service—that it would be absurd to pay for it, even if I could afford it.

By way of comparison, in 1921, the cost of a sirloin strip steak was 21 cents a pound. Today the price is $12.99 to $14.99.

Hmmm: $12.99/$.21 = 61.86. Am I right in thinking that means a piece of steak costs almost 62 times as much today as it did in 19 and aught 21?

That would make the magazine a bargain. Still can’t afford it, though.

Love Under a Coyote Moon

Urban coyote

It was a long night.

The Human woke in the wee hours of the morning — very wee. The Dog dozed while its creature tossed and turned, worried and fretted, got up twice to gulp down various tablets: aspirin, allergy pills, whatnot. Turned on its magical noise-making lightbox and poked away at the little black pedals arrayed across its surface.

An incipient sore throat conjured visions of covid-19, God help us all! Is this just a residue of the choking fit that visited in the afternoon? Or maybe an allergy? Or…or…what?

I get up, stumble down to the medicine cabinet, and scarf down a Claritin. But…but…but…I’ve already dropped a Benadryl. Took  one of those along about 7:30 p.m., in hopes of staving off a not-atypical allergy-mediated sore throat and runny nose. By 12:40 in the morning it should have kicked in, and I don’t think it would wear off in just five hours.

Holy shit!! I’m coming down with the covid disease. Right? That’s gotta be it.

Sleep is now out of the question.

Couple hours pass. Waking hours. The Claritin does nothing.

At 3 a.m., I get up and drop an aspirin. But I know now I’m dooooomed! No question of it, DOOMED! What other explanation is there but covid covid fucking covid! Ten days before I could manage to prize free an appointment for a shot!

Is that not typical? I ask you: how typical is that!

Give up trying to sleep.

Along about 4:30 a.m., the Human is pounding at its little black pedals when we hear a noise. A weird noise. It’s coming from outside the bedroom’s east wall, loud enough to resonate through the slump block. Like…bleating.

A sheep? There’s a sheep out on the sidewalk?

b-a-a-a…b-a-a-a…b-a-a…b-a-a-a…

Sheep? Seriously? Goat, maybe? Do goats bleat?

The neighborhood does have several remaining agricultural properties, land banks and tax dodges for their owners and pleasant rural-looking pockets in the midst of an increasingly gentrified zone abutting an increasingly tough and ugly slum. One person still keeps a few critters, among them an overgrown Vietnamese pig that has been known to escape.

Do pigs bleat? No…I believe in any language pigs oink.

Cat? Naaahhh…cats yowl.

Dog? Whatever this noisemaker is, it ain’t barking. Besides, if it were a dog, Ruby would be up and at’em. She’s profoundly uninterested.

Javelina? Hmmm… Javelinas make a kind of grunting sound, but I don’t believe they’re known to bleat.

Fox? Foxes can make a variety of interesting sounds, being clever little critters. But none of them sound like a sheep.

Delinquents? Since when have teenagers begun to bleat while TPing the trees?

“Ruby! Hey! Ruby! Wake up!”

Dog eyes the human wearily. Now what?

“Listen to that! What is that?”

Dog lifts head off mattress.

b-a-a-a…b-a-a-a…b-a-a…b-a-a-a…

You woke me up for THAT? It’s a sheep, you ridiculous creature. Put away the freakish computer, turn off the damn light, shut up, and go to sleep!

Human continues to peck at the computer. Before long, the bleating ceases.

Not too very much longer after that, Dog stirs and notices the sun is bleaching the eastern sky. She arises and demands food.

Human and Dog stumble out to the kitchen, where Human sets a dish of food on the floor. Dog feasts, then goes on about its business.

As the sun marches toward the zenith, Dog and Human set out for their daily stroll through the neighborhood. As they pass the east side of the house, Human spots a skiff of gravel scattered across the sidewalk. The gravel top-dressing on the side yard is roiled up a bit, right outside the bedroom wall. A few doggy-looking footprints are visible.

And now by the light of day, Human remembers: It’s mating season for coyotes. This is February. Sonoran desert coyotes whelp in March (or thereabouts). The serenade we heard at 4:30 in the morning was the Song of Coyote Love.

This means two things:

  1. Soon we will have coyote pups abounding in the ‘Hood, wherever Mama Coyote can find a quiet and secluded place to den. A-n-n-d…
  2. This means Ruby-Doo will be at some risk for the next several months.

When coyotes are whelping, they try to clear their territory of other canids. This is because competing coyotes, as well as wolves, will kill the pups when they find them. A coyote actually will come over your wall to take out your dog.

And that means Ruby will have to be watched every time she goes out in the backyard. Over the next three or four months, she cannot be let outdoors alone to putter around, as is her wont.

Few years ago, a couple of my neighbors — a gay couple — were lounging in their living room having a cocktail before dinner. Their greyhound was perambulating around the backyard, where the men could see them through the living-room window. All of a sudden they saw a coyote come right over the back wall! Unfortunately, this was not the wiliest of moves: the animal was no match for an 80-pound hunting dog.

The grey took after the coyote. It managed to escape over the wall as the two men watched in awe. The hound was unfazed.

A few days later, one of their neighbors happened to mention that, gee, he’d found a dead coyote laying in the front yard.

Welp. A corgi a greyhound does not make. Ruby would be no match for a coyote.

Coyote image: By Frank Schulenburg – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=46976005