Coffee heat rising

i need a drink!

Augh!  Is there EVER a dull moment around this place?

Another Day from Hell. So many of those pepper the temporal landscape that sometimes I wonder if live in Hell. A day like this leads one to suspect that’s true.

This place — the city of Phoenix and its tacky environs — gets more and more like Southern California every day. That’s not surprising. Twenty years ago, give or take, our honored City Fathers openly announced they wanted to model the Valley after L.A.

Ugh! was what I said to that then. And Ugh! is what I say to it now.

I just hated living in Southern California, after my father moved us down there from San Francisco. Tacky? You want tacky? The place defines tacky. The crowds, the traffic, the noise, the smog, the ticky-tacky, the worship of mediocrity…yuch! What a place!

In Long Beach, we lived in a dreary second-story flat in a dreary ticky-tacky plaster apartment building: no insulation — either for heat or for sound. Every part of it a study in cheesiness.

My mother, after a year or so, found a place that was somewhat better built and contrived to get us into it. That was an improvement. But it was still Southern California. Ticky-tacky Southern California.

I didn’t have to drive there, because I was still too young to get a permit. Thank gawd!

Driving here in (un)lovely uptown Phoenix is now just about the same as it was there. Crowded, dirty, dreary, streets never built to hold the volume of traffic, ticky-tacky apartment buildings lining many of the main drags; all the rest lined by ugly strip malls. It’s an ugly, ugly city with a dreary, dull lifestyle.

The ‘Hood was built awhile before full-scale LosAngelization set in. So even though our houses are somewhat cheaply built, they’re not outright junk. Not great. But not as awful as newer construction.

Oh yeah: the Day from Hell….

My laptop hung majestically as I was working on the files for the Olive Getten project.

Olive Getten was my wild-assed grandmother. From what I can tell, she was about as far off the wall as you can get and still stay in the troposphere. She was, indeed, one off-the-wall lady. And as I traipse around digging up data about her, I keep finding more and MORE off-the-wall stuff.

Olive supposedly died of uterine cancer in the late 1920s, allegedly the result of her wild and woolly lifestyle. Her family were Christian Scientists, so she didn’t get to a doctor until it was too late to save her life…if it was ever not too late. We’re told she remarked to my mother that she thought her agonizing death was God’s punishment for all the abortions she’d had.

My mother was her first illicit pregnancy — dignified by a marriage with the father that lasted…what? ten days? WhatEVER. 😮

Apparently they were divorced by the time my mother popped into this world, thereby defining a “flash in the pan” marriage.

The maternal grandparents — Olive’s immediate family — had moved to California from upstate New York long before my mother came on the scene. How Olive got mixed up with the boyfriend in New York–allegedly my mother’s father–I dunno. But she did. The Bay Area family made my mother care for Olive on her deathbed…you can imagine what a great adolescent experience that must have been? My mother said she saw her carted out of the house, dead as a doornail, and loaded into a hearse.

But…y’know…to the contrary,…

…apparently she lived until 1979.

It appears that Olive had an extramarital relationship with a San Francisco business magnate named Jack Sansome…and it appears that at one point she married him.

These antics add up, within the mores of the time. She couldn’t very well bring her illegitmate(!) daughter into a marriage with a prominent member of the business community. So…what to do? “Disappear.” And recoalesce under some other name.

Did the East Bay relatives know about this accommodation? My guess is that at least some did. The paterfamilias was a prominent businessman. He would have known Sansome well. Did he tell the distaff side of the tribe? Dunno. But in downtown San Francisco, there are two streets that merge in front of a large bank: Sansome Street and Olive Street.


As soon as I start to write up this saga, the goddamn computer CRASHES!

So once again — for the how-manyth time over the last couple of weeks — it was traipse through the unholy traffic, trudge into Best Buy, stand in line, try to explain what the trouble is.

I hope they can at least retrieve my data. Stupidly, I didn’t back it up to iCloud…’cause I was still working on it.

Meanwhile, in the middle of all this, I am sick as a proverbial dawg. Gawdawful hacking cough, stuffy nose, 101.2 fever. I just wanna go to bed! And the real thermometer — as opposed to the touchy and wacksh!t digital one — is presently LOST. Had it this morning, but have no idea where it is now.

Driving around Phoenix, though, to return to our original premise, reminds me eerily of ticky-tacky Southern California in the late 50s & early 60s. WHAT a dreary place. Mile on mile on mile of cheesy, cheaply built apartment buildings, dreary, dull, and vastly mass-produced.

Can’t see how my son can stand living here. Think it’s because he wants to be near me and his father — that’s why he magisterially insists that I NOT move away. But if he ever moves — or if he ever can be persuaded to move to wherever I want to go — I am outta here!

Day from Hell…on Steroids!

HOLY mackerel, what a day!!!

Along about late morning, I started enjoying some breathing and coughing problems. COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGHETY COUGH COUGH!

Pretty much a dry cough — not hacking anything up. Well, actually, once or twice during the night I practically strangled. But…WTF? The coughing wouldn’t stop.

Nothing I tried beat it back one bit.

I’m thinking this does not look good. COUGH COUGH COUGH COUGHETY COUGH COUGH!

Eventually I come to light long enough to take my temperature: 101 degrees.

Holy shit.

My normal temp is around 98.2.

I’ve already been charging from pillar to post out there in the heat. The last thing I wanna do is traipse to a doctor. Way to hell and gone up in North Scottsdale!

Try the mercury thermometer. It’s off the scale: over 106.

Oh, sher…

RE-try the electronic thermometer: 100.8.

Prob’ly not very drastic, after all the crap I’ve been through this afternoon.

Call the Mayo. Nurse Kim gets all anxious. She wants me to drive right out there, or else call an ambulance and have them cart me up there.

a) I do not want to drive halfway to Fountain Hills to get to the nearest Mayo facility.
b) There’s no way in Hell I’m going to our nearest full service hospital and ER: John C. Lincoln, the home of the careless and the incompetent.
c) Nor am I trudging downtown to St. Joseph’s Hospital, where I’ve had a truly hair-raising experience.
d) I suspect these wacky swings represent…well…Looney Toons.

So we decide I should go to a nearby pharmacy or the neighborhood Urgent Care Clinic, which is right down by the Albertson’s. She wants me to get tested for covid-19.

Albertson’s has an excellent pharmacy, and straight across the street, Walgreen’s has one very similar to it. If it weren’t 96 degrees out there just this minute — at 7:20 p.m. — I could walk down there. In mid-afternoon, Wunderground suggests, the high was a balmy 99 degrees, with 19% humidity.

Garden spot.

No, Albertson’s pharmacy does not have covid tests. No, Walgreen’s does not have covid tests.

So I go to the Urgent Care Center next door to the Albertson’s. That fine institution has six people sitting in the waiting room. And outside, the most horrifying, pathetic bum…the poor guy is collapsed on the pavement, in the shade of the pony wall that separates the parking lot from the sidewalk.

Even if I had any cash — which I didn’t — I don’t give handouts to panhandlers. Many of these folks are dangerous, when they’re not making pests of themselves.

Inside the “Urgent” (yeah…) Care place, I wait and I wait and I wait and I wait and I wait and I wait and I wait and I wait, along with all the other “patients” (got that right) who are waiting and waiting and waiting and waiting.

Finally I think oh fukkit! Get up, walk out, drive back home. Gasping for air.

Call the Mayo. They try to get me to drive out there. I bang around trying to manage that…but finally think, once again, oh fukkit!

I just. can. not. bring. myself. to. drive, a half-hour or forty minutes. and then get to a place where I have in the past waited HOURS for care.

If I die, I die. Kulawahed!

Right now the mercury thermometer won’t let me shake it down below 99 degrees. Screw it. The battery thermometer reads 100.8.

So presumably I have a low fever. Or I’m fricaseed in the heat.

Here’s what I’m gonna do:

First, I’m going to set up the steamer to blast

I’m a-gonna traipse into the backyard and take a dip in that cool but not at all cold swimming pool.

Well. Maybe not. Now that the steamer is put together, I feel a little cooler. The headache could go, though….

Reset the electronic thermometer. FRANTIC beee-eee-eep beee-eee-eep beee-eee-eep!!!!!!!


Now it claims I have a temp of 101.1!!!

Make up your mind, ya damn thing!

WhatEVER: my mind is made up: throw on some clothes and head for the Mayo. DAYUM!


So…here I am, in the Mayo’s shiny, majestic new ER. Quite a place!  The computer’s iOs (or the surrounding architecture??) is not letting me save much to disk, or save copy written in Word or MacMail. My son is in the middle of a dinner party…offered to drive me out here, but that was not necessary.

How could I do without this little horror show? Let me count the ways…

I hate hospitals, to begin with.

Especially, I’m not fond of ERs, which are scary places…IMHO.

A little kid is back there being tortured: screaming her sweet head off.

My head hurts like hell, speaking of heads.

I need to go to the bathroom, but am afraid they’ll ask me to pee in a cup so I’d better not get rid of the present collection.


LOL! We’re now all pee’d out, X-rayed with a vengeance, ridden around in a chariot all over the new and old parts of the ER. Zowie! They’re still threatening to drain blood out of me with a damn needle: THE part of this sorta thing that I hate the most. But ohhh well.

This is a nasty li’l cough. I’m as sure as I’m sitting here that it’s GOTTA be a case of covid.

COULD be an ordinary cold, o’course. One could keep on hoping. BUT…I don’t get a fever with an ordinary cold. And rarely get a fever with the flu. So I think it’s pretty safe to guess that whatever ails me begins with a “c” and ends with a “d.”

My computer isn’t working right in here. Though I’m in Funny’s post-building function and it seems to be working…nothing else is functioning. This post is up and the system is letting me type in it, but other pages are nonfunctional. So it remains to be seen whether any of this copy ends up on the Web.

Lordie!!! All these professional folks with tattoos! About every second or third staff member is covered in skin artwork!

Heh… My mother would have been SO abhorred!!!! She thought tattoos were low-class even on men. And on women? Well! It just wasn’t done!

Another thing that would have sent my mother into a spiraling tizzy is the price of gas!

It’s well over $5 a gallon here. Yesterday I did manage to fill up at a QT: a bargain $4.99!

Back in the Dark Ages — this would have been in the late 1960s or early 70s, I think — my mother once remarked, reflecting on the State of the World, That when gasoline reached a dollar a gallon, we would have soooooo-shal-ism!!!

My parent were right-wingers, Goldwater types. My father: even more extreme than that. I recall him sitting me down one day to lecture me about the virtues of bigotry. He was, as you might imagine, an extreme bigot: anyone who wasn’t white like him was less than fully human. Not only white, but American of English and German extraction.

Ironically, though…as we’ve mentioned elsewhere in these precincts, he was a quarter Choctaw.

Soooo….how it came to be that he hated anyone who wasn’t lily-white is a great mystery.

Cultural thing, I expect. It was probably just the way people who lived in rural Texas were.


It’s almost midnight. I think they’re going to spring me out of here pretty quick. One of the staff was in here collecting my insurance information.


A-N-N-N-D…I was right. The disease of the day IS Covid 19.

Holeee sheeut!

Crime Central, Richistani Edition

Hoooboy! Long as we’re talkin’ about crime, check out this development, which came to light shortly after I posted yesterday’s events…

The Mayo Clinic is in one of the toniest parts of the city. That hiking area is in northeast Scottsdale!

Yeah: right where you’d move if you were trying to get away from the crime in your neighborhood

This unholy incident tells us two things:

1. Never go hiking alone, especially if you’re female; and
2. You can’t move away from the sh!t. Like that cop told me after the Great Garage Invasion episode, “It’s everywhere!”

Well, it tells us three things:

3. You can’t even go for a walk without risking rape or murder or both.

Next dog is gonna be another German shepherd.

Hee! Do the Days from Hell NEVER Stop?

Today — here in late April — the weather is supposed to hit 100 degrees, for the first time this year. Yep: first Weather Day from Hell of the year. First, you may be assured, of many.

Six in the morning, I roll out of the sack after the usual Old Lady Insomniac night. Not too bad in that department, actually. Though the internal alarm did go off at 3 a.m. sharp, for reasons unknown I somehow got back to sleep. Usually that doesn’t happen — the getting back to sleep part, I mean.

Stumble into the bathroom by way of preparing to take Ruby on our 1- to 2-mile stroll through the’Hood, do my thing, and…and…yeah. Wouldn’tcha know it: the damn toilet clogs!

Haul the plunger in. Plunge plunge plunge plunge plunge plunge… Nothing. Doesn’t work.

It’s freakin’ SATURDAY! No chance of getting a plumber over here for another two days.

Fortunately, the house has two bathrooms. And fortunately, the head in the back bathroom is still functioning. Otherwise, I’d be doing my bidness out in the backyard with the dog.


Holeee mackerel!

So I call the plumber — Maloney’s Plumbing, for those of you who live in lovely Phoenix — figuring that if anyone answered the phone (which surely they would not, right?) maybe I could arrange to be first in line for a service call on Monday morning.


Incredibly, not only did someone answer the phone, but they sent a guy right over! He was in the house and out the door by 9:30! And he was an extremely nice gentleman.

So. Yeah.

I guess Days from Hell do stop!

It’s a miracle!


And speaking of adventures in Days from Hell, I’m sitting here, 20 minutes to 5 on this Saturday afternoon, next-to-last day of the month, when a random thought wafts into my sweaty little brain…

Ohhhh holeee shee-ut!
I forgot to renew my driver’s license!!!!!!

You can do this online here nowadays. But I completely blew it off.

Run out to the garage, dig the piece of plastic out of the car, look at it to see what and where to do what and and when, and see…good grief! It doesn’t have to be renewed until 2025!

Who knew?

Last time I renewed this thing was three years ago. And to do so, all I had to do was go to a random desk in a random privately run post-boxes office and fill out a form.

This means that people who are driving on the Arizona road do not get tested or asked any significant questions for periods approaching a decade.

Explains a lot, doesn’t it?

Dog Back; Human Unraveled

Whew! WHAT a Day from Hell!

If you’re ever (un)fortunate enough to land in (un)lovely Phoenix, remember this survival tip: never, EVER drive around this exquisite city in the rush hour. And bear in mind that evening rush hour extends from about 3 p.m. to something after 6 p.m. Morning? Make it 7 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. At least.

Y’know, I hated living in Southern California: crowded, crass, ego-driven, ticky-tacky junky dumps every which way you turned. Shopping was annoying, time-wasting, and often fruitless. People were so focused on themselves they didn’t even notice the other humans around them. Driving was a horrid, hectic, miserable hassle. Neighborhoods were bland, faceless grody collections of ticky-tacky apartments and cheaply built houses.

Chez Pitz.

Welp. Gotta say: I feel approximately the same about this place. The only difference between Phoenix and unlovely Long Beach is that Phoenix gets one helluva lot hotter in the summertime. In all other respects, the two garden spots echo each other when it comes to the…uhm…graces of living. Dump A and Dump B: one smeared up and down the Pacific Coast, the other oozing across the Sonoran Desert.

Started out the day perusing real estate online, briefly. Just in the past few months, housing prices have exploded.

We have, for example, this garden spot. The place is smaller than my house. Jammed closer to the neighbors. And when you come down to it, situated in a neighborhood that’s about the same as mine in terms of quality, economics, social class, and crime rates. The thing is on the market for a good $200,000 more than my place is worth (Zillow claims my house is worth $540,500…and here I thought I paid way too much at 235 grand…). That would be because it’s located in darkest Arcadia, rather than on the top end of North Central. It’s been on the market for two hundred and sixteen days and still hasn’t sold.

That, I would offer, suggests the asking price is WAY too high.

First thing this morning it was off to the vet’s, there to get her smelly teeth worked on. The vet is way to Hell & Gone over in the Arcadia Lite district, a good 30-minute drive under the best of conditions. Make it 40 to 50 minutes in the accursed rush hour.

Leave the poor terrorized little dog there. Traipse back home, still navigating the horrific morning rush-hour traffic, and mope around all day in the absence of my furry friend. Worry, worry, and worry some more about a) the state of the pooch’s health and b) the staggering amount I figure Dr. Bracken is going to charge for yanking rotten teeth and scraping the rest of them clean, presumably under full anaesthetic.

Back at the Funny Farm, wrestle with the finances, wrestle with the busted garage door, wrestle with the pool, fart around fart around fart around fart around. Study real estate ads, thinking…really…I do need to get away from the accursed Tony situation. Calculate how I could buy a new house without cluing the bastard to where I’ve moved. Not difficult, really. 😉

Waste an inordinate amount of time on these and similar ventures.

Along about mid-day, call — yes, I can come get the dog.

Back into the traffic, this time plugging into the early afternoon rush hour (wherever you need to turn left, you can’t!). Drive and drive and drive and drive and…and…huh?

OVERSHOOT the street where the vet’s office resides.


Now I’m LOST in darkest Arcadia.

Drive around drive around drive around drive around…can NOT FIND HIS STREET!

Pull into a parking lot, walk into a business, and ask them if they know where Meadowbrook (his street) is. They do not. They pull out a cell phone, look it up, and decide I prob’ly passed it some blocks to the north. This: puzzling, since their phone seems to be showing the map in an east-west layout.

Drive around drive around drive around drive around…STILL cannot find his street!

This is weird, because I’ve been going to this vet for a good 20 years (with a hiatus or three) and yes, I DO know where Meadowbrook Drive is.

Go into another shop. This place is close enough that the clerk can say…oh, yeah: it’s three streets up that way.

Drive around drive around…FINALLY find the vet’s place.

All this driving around is happening as the afternoon oozes on and the traffic thickens. And thickens. And thickens.

Retrieve the little dog. Staff tells me not to feed her and not to let her drink too much water.

Right. Don’t know much about corgis, do ya?

Amazingly, though…unlike the avaricious vet here in our part of town, the one who proposed to extract several of Ruby’s teeth, to the tune of something over a thousand bucks, Dr. Bracken has not yanked out even ONE of Ruby’s fangs…all of which are now shiny and white.

Drive and drive and drive and drive and drive, the better part of 45 minutes: through heavier and heavier traffic, dodging up side routes I happen to know about, admiring the very expensive and fancy real estate in Paradise Valley (is there any way I could afford one of these palaces?), scrabbling past a couple of chronically congested intersections…at last, make it into the ‘Hood.

Get the dog out of the car. She is PARCHED. Let her drink some water but try to keep her from drowning in it. Not an easy task.

Refrain from feeding the dog. Piss off the dog.

Reheat some left-over grocery-store pasta…bolt that down. Yech. Why DO Americans eat this stuff?

Reflect on how horrible Southern California was as a place to live in the late 1950s, early 1960s. Reflect on how much lovely Phoenix has come to resemble that scene. Want to go someplace else.

Anywhere else.

Why I hate living in Phoenix

Why? Because it gets more and more like Southern California every day. And boyoboy did I hate living in crass, sprawling, ticky-tacky, crowded, cuh-RAZY Southern California.

And today I kinda hate living here. Especially I hate driving here.

About 40% of drivers here aren’t paying much attention to what they’re doing; maybe 20% aren’t paying any attention at all. They jerk around, they stop and start for no discernible reason, they turn left out of the center lane, they cut people off…and cut people off…and cut people off. And everyone has gotta get there first!

Traffic either moves too fast for the volume packed onto the road, or it moves too slow for the size and quality of the road. Traffic lights are not consistent: some have left-turn lights and some do not; some turn green quickly, while others make you wait until you turn green. Certain main drags (but not all of them) have complicated no-left-turn rules that kick in during the rush hours. And the only rule that’s consistent is the Rule of the Emperor of Wackiness.

it takes forever to get from here to there. Evening rush hour starts around 3:00 p.m. and proceeds through until about 6:30 p.m.

Costco: insane any time close to a major holiday.

Not so forever. When I was a Young Thang, believe it or not, I loved to drive around. Yeah: that’s drive around and around and around, just for the fun of driving around.

Do you remember the coin-flipping game?

You’d get in a car with a pal. One would drive; one would ride shotgun. The person in the passenger’s seat would flip a coin whenever you came to a major intersection: heads, you’d turn left; tails, right.

One could call it the Aimless Driving Game. Aimless it was, but it was more fun…! Sometimes we would end up on the side of one of the Valley’s scenic mountains, slithering unnoticed (we hoped!) through some outrageously overpriced neighborhood. Sometimes we’d end up in the business district, or over in the middle-class residential environs of the east side or out in the not-so-classy neighborhoods on the west side.

Wherever: driving was fun then, not a freaking ordeal.

Today you can’t go from point A to point B without risking your life. And you may be sure that nary a journey is “fun.”

Every moment on the road hereabouts is a fight for your life. If you don’t have EVERY nerve on high alert, you’re likely to get smashed, to run a signal, to make a wrong turn, to hit someone else, to LOSE YOUR FREAKIN’MIND.

Today I drove over to Lowe’s in search of a birthday gift for M’hijito. He likes to garden and to putter with plants, so I thought it would be sorta cool to get him a nice high-gloss plant pot and a cool lí’l plant to go in it.

So it was up to the westside Lowe’s, along about noon.

drive and drive and drive and drive and… Dart into the parking lot, stash the car, and trot into the nursery department.

Search around and search around and search around and… NOTHIN’!

Saddest excuse for a nursery I ever saw. WTF?

. . .

Back in the car. Head up toward the Costco up on the freeway at about Bell Road.

Get parked, hike up to the front door…greeted by MOBS AND MOBS AND MOBS of people.

Sumbiche! We’re coming on to Easter. I forgot. Having abandoned the church choir in the face of the covid epidemic, I lose track of what season it is. Especially what ecclesiastical season.

Navigate through the madding crowds. Search and search and search and search and find…NOTHIN’!


Back in the car. Head back into North Central, figuring Whitfil’s nursery will have some sort of fancy pots and plants, it being — yea verily — nigh unto Easter.

Drive and drive and drive and drive, the traffic thick yet very fast. Bastards won’t let me change lanes so I can turn left into the nursery’s parking lot. Overshoot the parking lot, cut a bastard off, turn left into the neighborhood just east of the nursery, drive round Robin Hood’s Barn, and come back onto the main drag. Turn right to head toward the nursery, where at last I get parked.

Clearly, their latest shipment of Mexican pottery has just come in! Hallelujah!

Grab a fairly gorgeous plant pot and, long’s I’m there, a pretty flowering plant.

Exhausted, buy the stuff, trudge back to the parking lot, load the loot into the car, and head back into the traffic.

Horrific, bumper-to-bumper, INSANE traffic.

In the process of dodging my fellow homicidal drivers, I miss a green light that turns yellow. Hurry-up-and-go traffic narrowly misses me as I cruise into the intersection. The light changes, and I’m in the middle of crazed traffic — on the red!


Narrowly miss getting hit. Floor it, make it to the other side of the light, my fellow homicidal drivers hollering imprecations and obscenities at me. Holeee sheee-ut!

Even more exhausted, finally make it back to the ‘Hood without killing myself or anyone else.

And think…how MUCH i hate this place and especially hate driving around this place. I hate it for the same reasons I hated living in Southern California. Our City Fathers of the 1960’s got their way: this place is modeled directly on SoCal. And it’s equally hideous.

Southern California Redux.