Coffee heat rising

You Can’t Escape from Stupid

Apparently can’t escape the neighbor’s dog, either…

😀 People are stupid. No matter which direction you look or how you look at them, people are plug-stupid.

Oneself included, of course…all too often.

Today, we have proof of both.

So…the ongoing bug is taking its toll on me. I’m effin’ exhausted. Meanwhile, the wounded hand hurt ALL. NIGHT. LONG  And was all swollen up come the dawn.

It’s normally been a little swollen, but this was beyond the pale. Bound an ice pack to it and wrapped it up in elastic bandage.

No…proverbial…dice.

But meanwhile, after two months of coughing and gagging and fever and misery, the bronchitis I picked up (probably at the Mayo’s ER) healed up…only to be followed a couple days later by a new epizootic — this one apparently just a garden-variety cold.

I don’t do very well with garden-variety colds. For me there’s no such thing as “just a cold.” These things make me effin’ miserable, and they go on and on and freaking on. Like, for weeks. So now I’m coughing up gunk and sneezing and snorking and struggling for air through a blocked nose…and on and on. Yes. Always on and on.

Annoyed — this means still more time off choir, more time feeling awful, more time low on food because I can’t face the thought of doing battle with Christmas crowds to buy basic groceries, more…whatEVER — I start treating the stuff as per usual: generic Afrin to clear up the nose, and generic Robitussin to stifle the frantic coughing. This is working okay.

Meanwhile, the Mayo gets on the phone to discuss upcoming X-rays and wtf is the matter with my busted-up hand. Their nurse practitioner now catches wind of this new ailment. She is not pleased and starts asking the usual questions, to which I respond with the usual answers. I mention the antibiotic I was given for the UTI, which is known to cause lung problems — some of them life-threatening — in older women. She allows as to how it might be a good idea to add a chest X-ray to the upcoming paw X-rays. “Had any chest pain?” asks she. “Uhhh….no,” say I, with some degree of honesty.

Fine. Now I spend the next few hours mostly loafing and reading, after consuming a breakfast (coffee, fruit, rye bread, nuts, cheese) so outrageously late that it qualifies as lunch. I medicate myself so as to be able to breathe and not to be able to cough my lungs out.

While I’m reading a particularly interesting new book, suddenly I get a sharp little pain in the middle of the chest. Sometimes this is scar pain. But I think…no…probably gas. And in fact, a burp or two come up. But this subtle jab recurs. And recurs again.

Holy sh!t i must be having a heart attack! This is IT, dear Lord!

Should I call 911? What’ll I do with the dog? Should I try to drive the 15 miles to the Mayo? What if I don’t make it…who will I kill on the road? Am I doooomed?

Well…after a moment it becomes apparent that I’m not dying. Maybe I’m having some sort of heart thing. Maybe not. It passes.

I get up, go in the other room, and take my blood pressure. Elevated. But not extremely so. As I take and average the usual four or five measurements that comprise an effort to get an accurate reading, the numbers drop by 15 points. Looks this is one more thing that’s not going to kill me.

Realize I’ve gotten exactly zero exercise all day long. Decide to do a short, calming yoga routine. After a few easy poses, I try the blood pressure routine again: first reading is down 22 points off the previous set’s initial reading.

And it’s off to the Internet — aka The Hypochondriac’s Treasure Chest — whereinat we learn that Afrin (nose spray) can raise one’s blood pressure, and Robitussin can cause “dangerously high blood pressure” and chest pain.

Uh huh. Name a drug, any drug, List its side effects. And invariably I will have the weirdest, most far-fetched, and most alarming manifestation possible.

So there’s stupid stuff No. 1. I probably should have called the doctors, but out of stupid orneriness I did not and am not going to because I have bloody well had enough of doctors, and because this little flap now looks not very alarming.

Moving on… While I’m not getting any exercise, Ruby the Corgi is not getting any exercise. I haven’t taken the poor little pooch out all day. And the skies are clabbering up. It’s supposed to rain off and on tonight and tomorrow, and then pour all day on Christmas.

Decide to take her for a Doggy Walk. So, along about 3:30, we set out.

It’s a nice afternoon, under gray skies. We socialize with various wandering neighbors, children, dogs. Marching through Lower Richistan toward Upper Richistan, by golly, what do we encounter but those astonishingly stupid people with the dog that keeps trying to plunge through their front picture window. The old man is outside standing around the sidewalk, with this dog once again wandering around off the lead.

Annoyed, I make a quick about-face and head back toward the ‘Hood. At Feeder Street N.S., I realize that this guy’s house is a half-block east of Richistan Way, so that if we take the next neighborhood lane to the north of him, we can circumvent him and his pooch and get where we want to go. So that’s what we do: head west on the next little street. Get about two-thirds of the way to Upper Richistan, and there the jerk is! Standing there with his massive dog.

Yes. He has walked east to Richistan Drive, north to this little road, and west a half-block in our direction, where he’s now standing around waiting for us to confront his fuckin’ dog.

Well, that’s probably not how his train of thought, such as it is, actually goes. But it’s the upshot. He simply does not grasp the possibility that his dog has been living and breathing for the opportunity to take out my annoying little corgi.

So now I have to do another about-face and walk back into the ‘Hood, curtailing our walk significantly.

The last time this idiot and his pea-brained wife saw me coming and noticed me turning in another direction, they called after me in their best ninny voices, Ohhhhh don’t worry! He won’t hurt anybody!

That’s fine, but how’s about you obey the leash laws, you morons? And how’s about we don’t tempt fate?

This is the dog that takes up a position on a shelf or table that these two have installed in their front picture window. It dozes all day in this window. Every time the critter sees me and Ruby walk by the house, it flies into a freaking berserker RAGE. It roars and barks and growls and, more to the point. throws itself against the window over and over, banging the window so hard it rattles and groans.

Eventually that window is going to break. When it does, the dog will come flying out through piles of glass shards and, if it doesn’t disable itself by getting mortally slashed, will come right straight after me and my pipsqueak dog.

These people are retirees, so it’s hard to believe the fools don’t notice their 90-pound beast is bashing itself full-force against a plate glass window. They couldn’t possibly miss it. That means they’re simply too fuckin’ stupid to surmise the obvious consequences.

They’re the folks who feed the coyotes.

Yeah. That’s why that street and the alley up behind their house are home to Coyote and all his wives, pups, and cousins. At night they put out two or three dishes of food for the feral cats (which they love dearly), thereby calling the coyotes to their driveway to consume the food. Being Belaganas, they’re none too bright about Coyote and appear not to understand that a fed coyote is a dead coyote. Or rather: incapable of understanding that concept. They have been told and asked and told again and asked again not to leave food out for stray animals, time and time and time again. But these idiots seem to think common sense doesn’t apply to them.

Stupid: it’s an epidemic.

Revival Time

Not that kind of revival! 😀

Amazing, it is, how fast we melt away when we lay around all day doing nothing. Or as close to nothing as we can manage.

I’m pretty good at that, we might add.

After falling over a broken slab of pavement a week ago Friday, I’ve been in so much pain I can barely move. And so, reasonably enough (one would imagine), I have been barely moving.

Result: taking the dog for a walk yesterday freaking wore me out!

When I haven’t been sleeping all day, I’ve been laying around all day playing computer games and cruising websites. Otherwise, when ambulatory: limping and hobbling around with great dramatic flair…like an old lady, we might say.

Well…it turns out that loafing all day is even worse for us than we think. Which, for those of us who do think about it, appears to be pretty bad.

It develops that when you take naps in the daytime, you up your chances of having a stroke significantly. This might not seem like much of a concern when you’re in your 30s or 40s, but when you’re rocketing toward 75, it gets your attention. Because…welll…sleeping half the afternoon away? That’s what I do all the time.

Because…I routinely wake up at two or three in the morning. Often I can’t get back to sleep. Or if I do, it’s just for another hour or so. This leaves me in Zombie Mode throughout the daylight hours. Which means I usually take an afternoon snooze.

So that article about napping and stroke definitively caught my attention.

Ohhhkayyyy…. So no more of that sleeping-the-afternoon-away business. Revival Time!

Yesterday I managed to stay awake all day, without too much discomfort. Surprisingly, too, I slept till around 7 a.m. — which is very late for me. That, I expect, was because I dropped half a Benadryl…but whatever, it worked.

Today for a change I was not so exhausted I couldn’t hold my head up. But did realize that the dog and I have lost our habit of the two-mile doggy-walk, mostly because I hurt too much to walk to the front door, much less wrangle her all the way through Lower Richistan, Upper Richistan, and back.

So it was out the door. But the walk was cut somewhat short, first by my overall sensation of weakness and then by a moron neighbor who was standing on her front lawn yakking with someone while her large, batshit dog stood guard. I had to pick up Ruby and carry her past them as the dog stared greedily at us and the nitwit cooed “oh, don’t worry, he never hurts anybody!”

Uh huh. This is the hound that she allows to snooze on a table or shelf in front of her large living-room picture window. Every time this critter sees me and Ruby and I walk up that street, it goes ABSOLUTELY SCREAMING BATSHIT. It growls, it barks, it slams itself against that window. Over and over. I avoid walking past the nitwit’s house, because sooner or later that dog is going to break through that damn window.

And that will be one hot mess.

I mean, really: do you seriously suppose this stupid woman just doesn’t notice that her 90-pound mutt goes freaking out of its mind when it sees a dog and a human amble by on the front sidewalk? How do people who have taken leave of that many IQ points remember how to put their shoes on?

But I digress.

Two doggy-walks a day, while a good thing, are rather more than I feel like doing, with one hand too maimed to manage the dog and one knee and the other hip hurting at each step.

So decided a yoga routine would be good. Or better: three of ’em: one in the morning, one around noon, and one in the evening.

The problem with having Jim the Incredible Pool Dude around is that because he does such an amazing job on the hole-in-the-ground-into-which-to-pour-money, I no longer have to go out in back every day and wrestle with pool brushes and hoses. So that is a source of exercise that has gone away. However obnoxious it may be, it did at least get me off my duff and require me to slam around for 15 or 20 minutes. Or more.

A short yoga routine actually worked very well: painless and strangely refreshing. Well…almost painless, as long as nothing touched the hand or the knee.

So I think I should try to do about three of those a day, preferably lengthening each session considerably. And then somehow get back to two miles on the doggywalks. At a time of day when the morons aren’t swarming…

Image: Wikipedia. Erling Mandelmann / photo©ErlingMandelmann.ch

Stay or Fly: The Busted Paw, the Peeper, and the Doc

Sooo… After the little jig I did yesterday to deflect the turkey who was transparently casing my house, I had to cancel out of choir. This provided the opportunity to move the 2:00 p.m. appointment at the urgent care unit next door to the neighborhood Albertson’s forward to noon. This turned out to be a good thing for a variety of reasons, not the least of which was that I diddled away two hours there. If I’d gone in at two, that caper would have consumed the entire afternoon.

They decided the pained paw probably has no fracture in any of the complicated set of bones that make up a human hand. But nevertheless, they sent the X-rays to a radiologist for assessment, later in the week. So that was mildly reassuring.

So I ended up chatting at length with a PA, these groups’ answer to an MD. What a doll! He fessed up that he was 53 — dayum! Born 20 years too late. He was an Indian gent — India Indian, I mean. Two daughters, wife, nice career. And even warier than I am of Life in the Big American City. I mentioned to him that when I fell I was walking Ruby the Corgi, and in passing remarked that I used to have German shepherds but at my age feel I’m past the time in life that I can effectively handle a large, high-drive dog.

Now get this: the clinic is right on Conduit of Blight, the border between the ‘Hood and a meth-ridden slum. And he says — apparently PC is not a Thing in New Delhi — that given some of the people he’s seen in that practice, he strongly recommended that I get another German shepherd, for my safety. But not just any German shepherd. “Spend the money, raid your life savings, to get a fully trained German shepherd.”

Yipes!

I said, “Well, it’ll have to wait until the corgi passes on, another five to seven years.”

He said, “No, don’t wait. If you have a trained German shepherd (by that, he clearly meant protection training), you will get another ten years of independent living. Otherwise, you won’t be safe and you’ll have to move on before then.”

Holy mackerel!

That was quite the exchange, because…well…we’re talkin’ about a guy who deals all the time, day in and day out, with the denizens of Meth Central. He remarked, too, that social problems in this country have become exponentially worse. And no amount of education or social service seems to be helping. He had, he said, seen young men with master’s degrees in fields like business and science, “melting away” (his phrase) as drug addicts.

Well. However. He is not a guy who deals with German shepherds all the time. In my experience with them (about 20 years’ worth), a good GerShep does not need protection training or any other kind of training other than basic obedience work to do the job for you. This fella, for example, would no doubt prove himself useful in an emergency…

The problem with a Gershep, provided you know what you’re doing and you’re lucky in your choice of companion, is not training but expense. These are very costly dogs to care for throughout a nine- to twelve-year lifetime. They can develop some spectacularly pricey ailments, not the least of them pannus, osteoarthritis, dysplasia of several varieties, thyroid failure…and on and on. So, in retirement the problem is not so much the dog’s strength and need to have you be incontrovertibly Alpha; it’s that you can’t afford the health risks when you’re living on Social Security.

At any rate, such speculation does nothing to address the issue of a sh!thead casing my house, just as we come up on the High Burgling Season that is Christmas gift-exchange time.

The plan: I happen to have an old stereo sitting in the family room. Believe it or not, the thing still works. So the strategy is to turn it to an NPR yakathon, turn up the volume, crack the solid-core door into the garage open, and lock up the dog in the back bedroom. That way, anyone who approaches the front of the house will hear the blabbity-blabbity through the tinfoil garage door. We are told this strategy — leave a radio or TV set on — is pretty effective against prowlers, because they can’t be sure no one is in the house.

Ruby sleeps in her nest under the toilet all the time I’m gone. If I just close the bedroom door, she won’t be able to race outside through the garage and head for Yuma when I come home. The radio will be plainly audible through the garage to anyone who approaches the front of the house, and of course it blats right through the glass doors and windows in back. Its racket doesn’t carry through that solid-core door; hence, I’ll need to crack it open a bit.

HOW, you may ask reasonably, did I instantly size up our passer-by as a would-be burglar?

By his dogs.

His dogs were  behaving as though they wanted to be nowhere near the guy. While he was ogling my house from in front of WonderAccount’s place, they were hunkered on the ground behind him, as far away as they could get at the end of their leashes.

That is not normal doggy-walk behavior. Dogs do not huddle behind you when you take them on a doggy-walk. They drag you down the street.

Plus…after innumerable daily doggywalks of my own, I know all the dogs in our neighborhood. His are not among them. By extension, I know most of the neighbors by sight…never saw this dude before.

The dogs’ strange behavior drew attention to the guy’s strange behavior. And the guy’s strange behavior was…strange.

But THEN…heh heh heh!

When I pretended to drive out but in fact circumambulated the block and showed up back in the driveway about 40 seconds later and found him ACROSS THE STREET AND LURKING NEXT TO MY HOUSE on the east side, where he was studying the front entrance and the front patio, well…he did himself in with that stunt.

Seriously: it could not have taken more than 40 seconds to get back to my driveway. The next street north was empty — nary a soul out in front — so I gave that six-banger a mighty hit of gasoline and JETTED up the road. I would be surprised if it took much more than 30 seconds for me to re-coalesce in front of the Funny Farm. And lo! there he was, upping the ante on the casing job.

German shepherd. Hm. Pit bull, maybe?

The Bug, the Dog, the ‘Hood, the Weather

Slow day here in Lovely Uptown Phoenix. Three days’ worth of predicted rain are settling in, starting with a little thunderstorm that delivered enough rumbling to make it sound like Sky Harbor must have rerouted its jet approach or landing paths to send jets directly over our heads.

The Bug: By midmorning I imagined maybe I was feeling a little better, despite having awakened at 2 a.m. and not managed to get back to sleep till around 5. This provided a feel-better window in which to race out and buy some groceries, after which the window slammed shut. Miserable, coughing, gasping for air, too exhausted to move: again!

Read on Facebook: A favorite friend reports on her experience of the present contagion, saying much the same: that she thought the miasma was starting to lift, but ooohh, no! It set right back in after two or three hours. Then eight of her friends chimed in, saying much the same.

Welp…misery loves company. I guess.

I see by the abysmal quality of the most recent few posts here that…yeah: apparently I’ve been so out of it I can’t compose a rational series of thoughts. The past two or three days of ramblings are…just that. Incoherent ramblings. I probably ought to delete them but don’t have the energy to fiddle with technocrap.

No doubt this post will be no more rational, its author still being radically sick. Two hot steamers have turned the bedroom into a kind of sticky sauna, which (I suppose) sort of helps a little. But I still feel like I can’t get enough air in. Still have an overwhelming urge to yawn but still can’t force the “yawn” reflex to kick in, the result being I feel like I’m suffocating.

The Dog: Ruby is so absurdly cute it’s next to impossible to go far in her company without being stopped by one or more of her admirers. Today we did manage to get around our one-mile circuit, despite the human’s infirmity. And also today she attracted the attention of a neighbor as he cruised by in his car, thereby causing him to recognize me as the person who remarked, on the neighborhood Facebook page, that I would be willing to help out with his proposed project of a neighborhood history.

So of course he had to pull over and chat. Ruby had to love him into submission and, by the way, do the same to other passers-by and, while at it, threaten to annihilate another neighbor’s German shepherd. (What is it with corgis, anyway?)

This guy has lived in the ‘Hood upwards of 30 years, and, unlike Yrs Truly, has a gregarious personality. Thus he knows everybody in sight, can remember their names and all the details of their personal lives, and knows the history of quite a few of the local houses just about as well. So that was a hoot.

He proposes that we should collaborate on this budding history of The ‘Hood. That, I think, would be OK by me. Truth to tell, I need something new to do with myself and my time. Local history is always fun to research and to write about. And…since this place is now becoming so hot with the young folks that it’s getting difficult to buy a house here (which would explain the eye-popping price inflation), a few interviews and a couple hours in the State Archives would give me a chance to pitch a story to Arizona Highways or Phoenix Ragazine. This, of course, would help to sell the proposed book. Also, if I could get back into Highways, a full-length feature would generate a respectable fee. And…who knows? Maybe I could get back into freelancing.

Yesterday, speaking of the ‘Hood, it entered my hot little head to wonder what proportion of houses here in our garden spot are battened down with steel security doors. So as Ruby and I were strolling around, I took to counting the total number of houses we passed and, of those, the number that had security doors. We’d left the house just as rush hour was overwhelming the feeder streets, and so couldn’t get across Feeder Street NW to get into the Richistans’ sylvan groves. So, we were confined to the low-rent blocks, where we live. As we walked past the fix-and-flip that the gullible old guy was roped into buying for around 60 grand too much, it occurred to me to wonder: wouldn’t you, if you were a prospective buyer and you looked around, take a clue by spotting iron bars on about every second house in the environs?

But…are there iron bars on every second house or so?

Well, yes: as we perambulated about our part of the’ Hood, I started counting. Of the 42 houses we passed, 34 had intruder-blocking steel gates secured over the front doors. That’s 80 percent of the houses. Eighty percent of residents who are so scared they hide behind iron bars.

Huh. Imagine that…

Well. It gets a bit more interesting.

This morning we managed to get out before the real surge of traffic made Feeder Street NW impassible. Et voilá! There we were in Lower Richistan. Sooo… This morning I assayed to calculate the proportion of door barricades over there. And lo! We passed 32 houses (the lots over there are much larger than ours), of which eight were locked down behind forbidding steel doors. That’s only 25 percent!

In Upper Richistan, none of the houses had security doors. Nary a one.

There’s a phenomenon, eh? I wonder what accounts for it?

Could be a social-class thing. Middle- to lower-middle-class folk may not regard steel bars on the front door as a blot on the family escutcheon.

Or…it could be that the further away you are from Conduit of Blight Blvd., the safer you feel. But…??????  They’re NOT significantly further from CofB. The walk from my house to the western edge of Lower Richistan is one (1) block long. Lower Richistan itself is about a block and a half, two blocks wide — which would put us all of three blocks from Upper Richistan.

My guess is, it’s social. People of good breeding do not install prison doors on the fronts of their homes.

As we scribble, it’s pouring outside. We’re supposed to get about three days of weather, starting this evening.

And that is not such a good thing right this instant, because Ruby just insisted on being fed. How exactly we’re going to get her wrung out in that stuff escapes me. I’m going to have to go outside with her. Yes. And stand out there and wait for her to do her thing. Coughing, shivering, and gasping for breath.

Human: Rooobeee! C’mon! Outside!

Dog: Eh?

Human: Come ON! Hurry-up outside.

Dog: (eyeballs human): You’re sicker than you look, aren’t you…

{sigh} That didn’t work. No point in putting away the jacket and the clodhoppers, I s’ppose…

Dogs and Depots…

…two entirely unrelated topics. Why not?

Dogs

Hallelujah, brothers and sisters! Ruby the Corgi and I did not run into one single dog during today’s morning perambulation. Normally the place is overrun with dog-walkers, especially in the park-like million-dollar groves of Richistan and Upper Richistan. Yesterday we encountered 11 dogs in about a mile and a half.

Not that I begrudge other people the privilege of walking their dogs around the ‘Hood. It’s wonderful that neighbors here feel safe enough to gallivant the streets with their poochies at the first glow of dawn or the last ray of sunset. The problem is that Ruby is ill-trained. She came to live in my precincts right at the start of the Year of the Surgeries. And believe me, at no time during that period was I in any shape to train a vigorous, energetic young shepherd dog — not even a dwarf shepherd dog. Result: even though Ruby will now walk on a leash peacefully enough and sometimes will even heel (it’s a miracle!), she will lunge at passing dogs, especially if they show even a glimmer of interest in her.

Many of these animals do show more than a glimmer of interest, and it is not friendly interest. Some are fine and would probably play with her — we do have one big old funny-looking doggy pal, a rescue named Sammy. But Ruby has been attacked three times, twice by dogs off the lead, and lunged at murderously by more leashed dogs than I can count. It means every time we encounter another dog-walker, I have to wrestle Ruby under control, cross over to the other side of the street (these people invariably hog the shady side of the street! 😀 ), and physically drag Ruby past.

Often, a person’s dog will not be well under control. Some are off the lead, illegally. Many accompany women pushing strollers, who are often preoccupied. Sometimes an Orthopedist’s Friend goes bicycling past with a big dog on a leash — the other day one such dog yanked its human off the bike when it charged at us from across the road. (Seriously: an orthopedist once told me he just loves people who run their dogs beside their bicycles — they’re a gold mine for him!) And then there are the folks who think their dogs and my dog “just want to play.” God help us.

All of which is, in short, a damned nuisance.

Where was everybody? That escapes me. The weather, though still a little overcast after the past two days’ rainstorms, is gorgeous. A spectacular rainbow was glowing just to the west of us, an amazing thing to see. It’s cool (at last!) and not about to rain and…?????  Not a holiday, far as I know.

Thought we must have gotten a late start — I suspect many of these folks are walking their dogs before they go to work, although some of the women are clearly Junior-Leaguers or other women affluent enough to be stay-at-home moms. But no: we got back to the house right at 7, which means we left around 6 or 6:15 a.m., right at the height of the doggy rush-hour. So what kept all these folks and their dogs indoors, I cannot imagine.

Depots and Daisies…

Speaking of dogs — in a metaphorical sense — I am soooo done with Home Depot!
Why do I go to HD at all? Well. Because it’s closer than the Lowe’s. Except it’s not significantly closer: if I were to get off my duff and drive up the freeway to the Lowe’s, it would be about the same distance as the surface-street junket to the nearest annoying Home Depot.

So day-before-yesterday I go by Whitfill’s, the small-business-owned nursery next-door to the Safeway, a long trip from either home improvement emporium. This is the preferred shopping destination for plants, because Whitfill’s is NOT owned by a Trumpeting megacorporation, but by a local family. Several generations of local family.

The shelves were pretty bare in those precincts…didn’t see any of the several specific plants I coveted. Figured it’s between seasons and so probably their stock was low because it was all sold out. But, thought I, HD would have the pretty much plain-vanilla plants I had in mind. Also needed: a couple of pool chemicals the SPS&R dude recommended this yesterday morning, by way of beating back the resurgent mustard algae. He dumped in a couple ounces of SkillIt, said who told you to put in 16 ounces? (The instructions on the side of the bottle, boss!), and recommended having some PhosFree and some Silvertrine on hand. And his parting shot?  “Don’t buy this stuff from Leslie’s. They’re pirates!”

No. They did not have either of the pool products recommended. We already knew they don’t carry Skillit. So no, these were not on hand as of yesterday afternoon, but probably will be today, because Amazon says they’ve shipped and are on the way.

Nevertheless, I load up on posies and various other home-improvement tchotchskies, and then head for the checkout.

In the garden department.

I always check out in the garden dept, because HD has replaced most of its cashiers with effing DIY self-checkout computers. To get a human, you have to hike to the far end of the store, halfway to freaking Wickenburg, and then hike back halfway to the Superstition Mountains to find your car. But for some reason unknown to 21st-century personkind, they’ve kept a human in the garden department.

One. Human. So, the garden department is my exit.

They used to have two or three cashiers in there. Now they have one, locked up inside an air-conditioned cubicle, and…yes…a goddamned computer checkout station.

SIX PEOPLE were standing in the human cashier’s line.

Over at the robot cashier? None. Zero point zero-zero.

So I join the long line and wait. And wait. And wait. And finally think ooooo fukkkit! 

Roll the full cart over to the side, abandon it, and stroll out of the store.

Cruise down to Whitfill’s — the family-owned nursery — figuring WTF, I’ll just make do with the dregs of whatever they have left on hand.

But WHOA!! Nooooo…since yesterday afternoon, they’ve received a truckload of new inventory. Hot diggety DAYUM, do they have the new inventory!  The gods reward those who persist in support of employees with minimum-wage jobs.

So I grabbed a lovely big blue salvia to put in the large empty pot on the west side. And a raft of strange little blue posies. And a raft of strange little orange posies.

Back to the Funny Farm.

Oh, joy: this pile of plants was enough to spiff up both the back west garden and the front courtyard. Courtyard still needs a little clean-up, but that could wait until morning, when it’s cool again.

What do you suppose possesses the management of Home Depot? Do they have no cameras in the garden department? Is there no manager who can see the endless line at the human’s cash register and the vacant station staffed by a f*cking computer? What COULD they be thinking? I bought about $70 worth of stuff. At Arizona’s minimum wage, that would have employed a cashier for just over six hours. Yes. One customer’s purchase would have covered almost an entire shift for a living employee!

I cannot justify continuing to shop in stores run by people who can only be morons. That is the sole explanation for this stupidity. Well. That, and brain-banging greed.

Dog(walk) Days of Summer

Summer is tentatively turning its golden-locked head toward fall. Nights are growing longer, days shorter, and the other day’s violent storm knocked the temps down a few degrees. As I scribble, it’s only 98 out here on the side deck, just fine for breakfast, coffee, and computerized time-wasting.

You think I jest? Yes, it is “only” 98, by comparison balmy with recent days whose mornings have started out at 102. It’s a little drier than it was the other day, too: Wunderground pegs the humidity at a mere 38%, as nothing compared to yesterday’s 64%.

Cassie-off-leash
The endless doggy walk…

Ruby-Doo and I got a late start on the morning’s trek — didn’t leave the house till 6 a.m. But to my surprise, we hardly ran into any other dog walkers: only three dogs in a good two-mile perambulation. Which is like…the Twilight Zone, where you wake up one day and discover you’re the only person in the whole town.

What explains this Great Absence? I figure it’s Labor Day: this is the last big three-day weekend of the summer, and anyone who has the means flees the city for one last fling in the cool(er) high country. If you can take off Friday — which lots of people can — you wangle a four-day weekend. And if you work for a government office? Well!

At Arizona Highways — which is run by the Arizona Department of Transportation, making everyone there a state employee — we used to store up our vacation days so they would straddle a three-day weekend. So, for example, my boss would take four days off right after Labor Day, giving himself a week, and two weekends away from the office: (saturday.sunday.monday.tuesday.wednesday.thursday.friday.saturday.sunday) nine days off for the price of four vacation days.

Ultimately, this was remunerative, because the State of Arizona was required to pay you for unused vacation time when you retired. There was a (very generous) limit to the number of days you were allowed to stash for this purpose, but you can be sure that by the end of any given fiscal year my boss was always maxed in that department. 🙂

Didn’t do me much good, because my husband was in private practice and was expected to…oh, you know…show up to work? That kind of unreasonable demand. However, I still got enough vacation days to take off on the junkets he liked to indulge himself in: Hawaii and waypoints.

At any rate, whatever the reason, it was mighty quiet out there between 6 and 7 this a.m.

Susan-B.-Anthony-DollarIn the lengthening shadows of (financial) winter department, I discussed the current budgetary horror show with WonderAccountant. She pointed out that because I never owe any taxes and I get a large refund every year, it’s unnecessary for me to have the feds withhold income tax from Social Security. Cancel that! said she.

Well. Easier said than done.

After some fiddling around on the Internet, though, I finally found a form online. ONE LINE in an entire page of bureaucratic fill-in-the-blanks allows for a “Do not withhold” request. Checking the box and signing at the bottom requires fiddling around with downloading and then printing the form: duly done. then the page suggests you can either mail the form to a Social Security office or drive to an office near you and submit it in person.

So I figured I’d drive up to the SS office in Paradise Valley today and drop this thing off.

But on second thought: There’s no “dropping off” at that place. Dollars to donuts, I can’t just hand this thing across the counter to someone. I would surely end up having to take a seat and wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. Depending on the time of day, wait times range from 45 minutes to three hours.

To turn in ONE FUCKING LINE??????????

Barf.

Now the plan is to drive this over to the post office, stand in line there (almost as interminably, but surely not for one to three hours), and send it Return Receipt Requested. What a nuisance!

Well. The $300 a month that SS is now extracting from my paycheck will re-fund the empty Emergency Savings account, thereby taking up some of the slack.

That will still leave an $8870 shortfall, per annum.

But, noted WonderAccountant, now that we’ve converted The Copyeditor’s Desk from an S-corp to a sole proprietorship (and paid last year’s taxes!), I can take money out of that without tax consequences.

This year.

But then what?

It looks like the choices are…

  • To get a paying job. (Right! Know anyone in the market for a 74-year-old female employee? Har har!)
  • To cut every expense possible. (Done. Now what?)
  • To hustle up at least net $10,000 worth of business in the coming few months.

Ten grand is an awful lot of amateur novels and Chinese scientific treatises.

Truth to tell, the amateur novelists are paying one helluva lot more than the Chinese scientists. This is because a budding author’s draft magnum opus typically runs upwards of 30,000 words. At 4 cents a word, that’s $1,200. Or more. Usually more. The last two authors who hired me paid over $3,000 apiece. But even at only $1,200, that’s…what?  Three amateur novels would yield $3600, leaving a mere $6,400 in the shortfall. This would require about 20 Chinese scholarly articles to cover.

And that ain’t a-gonna happen. It might be workable if I could extract $3,000+ from every wannabe novelist. That is the going rate – 4 cents a word – if you look it up on the Net and you believe what other editors publish on their websites.  To make enough to generate at least 10 grand a year, then, I’d need to land three or four budding Herman Melvilles. Or Isaac Asimovs…most of them dream of writing science fiction.

The only way I could make that happen would be to really hustle the editing bidness. This would mean showing up at every local club of wannabe writers in the Valley — and showing up regularly. And handing out professionally written and laid-out marketing junk at every meeting. It has to be said that the last two novels I picked up came from members of the West Valley writer’s group.

That outfit meets in Tolleson, almost an hour’s jaunt from my house. It’s a horrible drive, and then you have to sit through three hours of palaver. The members are very nice and a delight to socialize with. But because nothing very useful — for my purposes — is said, it feels like an aching waste of my time. Especially if I have paying work in-house.

If I’m having to go to four or five such groups’ meetings, we could be talking about 12 to 15 hours a month of achingly boring time suck…plus drive time. I cringe! Surely there must be a better way??????