Coffee heat rising

Life at the Funny Farm: September Edition

Jeez! 9 ayem and I’m flat-out exhausted! What a Morning from Hell! Up at the usual 5 a.m. but dawdled over the computer, so the Hound and I went out the door late.

Because it’s so late, we hit the road at the height of the Dogging Hour. Every chucklehead and his little brother and sister are out with their pit bulls, Aussies, spaniels, poodles, German shepherds, dalmations, chihuahuas, Bernese mountain dogs, Boston terriers, dachshunds, akitas, vizlas, and reservation dawgs. This adds a great deal of stress to a doggywalk because Ruby wants to LUNGE at every goddamn one of them. That, as you can imagine, tends to alarm the fellow dogs, which then go in for the attack by way of protecting their humans. To prevent this, every time someone comes along with a pooch, I have to stop and make Ruby “SIT! STAY!” until they go by us.

This is WHY we leave the house no later than 5:00…by way of avoiding the dog-walkers’ rush.

So we walk around the corner to see if our neighbor Signey is out with the kids. She lives right next door to the house where La Maya & La Bethulia lived before La B decided to pathbreak their escape to California, and at this time of year she’s often sitting in front with her small children and her herd of tiny, funny-looking adopted dogs.

And yes, she’s there. We start to schmooze…

New neighbor comes out with his dogs and walks off around the corner. She points out one of them and says it’s a pit-bull/shepherd mix and is extremely aggressive. She says it went after one of her pipsqueaks and almost killed it before she was able to tear the animal away from it.

Lovely. The scrawny male human looks like he weighs…oh…maybe 150 pounds, at the outside. Mmmm hmmmm…

She dotes on Ruby and rubs her hands and face ALLLLLLL over the dog’s fluffy corgi fur. Then she says happily, “And the kids are going to school.”

Oh. Good. It’s not maybe…it’s absolutely positively: You just rubbed fistfuls of virus into my dog’s coat! Jezus Aitch Keerist, but people are stupid.

By the time we get to Feeder Street N/W, there’s too much traffic to get across the road safely, so we wander back into the ’Hood, up the street I used to live on, around and around. This route is neither as long nor as pleasant as the stroll through the shady realms of Upper Richistan, but at least we don’t have to risk life or limb to get there.

Herd the dog back to the house, and now I have to wash her. She sleeps on my bed at night, and I do NOT want Signey’s kids’ classmates’ germs all over my bedding. Or all over the floors and furniture in my house, either.

Washing Ruby is quite a production. She hates it, she is terrorized by it, and she puts up one bitch of a fight. Decide against assaying this battle in the backyard — at that hour, it’s cool enough outside that cold water out of the hose could in fact harm her. So I have to drag her into the bathroom to wash her in the tub.

WHAT a fight!!!  I finally haul her into the bathtub, then get her wet all over, then scrubbed down with shampoo, then rinsed, then out of the tub…. Did I mention that she hates being wiped down with towels, too?

She goes shake shake shake shake shake shake shake… and covers the cabinetry, walls, and floors with billowing sprays of dog-water.

More fighting. Her hair is thick and she’s getting fat and I don’t get far with the towels. Dig out a hair dryer, plug it into a socket near the floor, and drag her over.

You thought the bathtub episode was a fight? Hah!

Finally manage to get enough of the sog out of her fur that I figure she probably won’t get chilled enough to get sick. I hope. By this time, though, the sun has risen and the air is warming, so…this is prob’ly a safe enough bet.

Clean up the mess and…clean up the mess and clean up the mess and clean up the mess and clean up the mess and….

Put the towels and the towel that fell off the towel bar into the bath water and the dog-wiping towel and the microfiber rags used to finish the dog-drying into the washer. Get out of my wet clothes and toss those in the washer. Find something else to wear. Climb into the shower and wash my own much-doggified body and hair before getting dressed.

By now it’s 8 o’clock!

Fix breakfast. Pour coffee. Just begin to drag the melon and the other goodies out to the table on the garden deck when ARF ARF ROAR YAP YAP ARF ARF WOOF WOOF ARF ARF YIPPETY YAP YAP YAP!!!!!!! 

Pool Dude.

Pool Dude is a chatty kinda guy. He does like to talk. Rudely, I sorta ignore him without saying in so many words arrghhh leave me alone because i bite! He goes on about his business. Putters around. Surfaces to explain his scheme to provide a refurbished pool cleaner gadget of the Amazing Variety, a plan that was derailed during the week. No problem. We discuss last night’s political side show, he being right-stage, me being left-stage, both of us being gun owners. I can’t get .38s. He has a bunch of ammo stashed. We figure we’ll be needing this, though I suggest it’s mighty doubtful that Trump’s bully boys will be rioting through sub-suburban neighborhoods. He says he’s taking no chances.

I say my plan is to get a blowgun. He says…

…hang onto your hat…

He used to make them! 

I mean, really. You’ve heard of “never a dull moment”? Around this place there’s never a sane moment.

I say I understand you can make them with PVC pipe. He says noooo, the diameter would be too large. You need copper piping.

Hmmmmmm……  Suppose Home Depot will cut that stuff to measure for me? Waddaya bet?

Which do we live in? Monty Python ShowTwilight Zone? Or just another planet altogether?

Pool dude out. 

It’s almost 10 a.m. I’ve got to go to Costco. On the way home, maybe I’ll stop at the Depot and see what I can get by way of lengths of copper tubing. Hmmmm….

Doggy Divin’ at the Break of Day

Dayum! As dawn cracks, the dog falls in the pool. Into the deep end, natcherly.

So I have to leap into the water (fortunately I was about to go swimming so am not burdened by blue jeans and shirts). The resulting tsunami swamps her and her head sinks below the surface. I swim to her, grab her as she’s going under, haul her over to the seat, and lift her out.

I thought she had figured out the pool boundary. She seemed to have realized that the water is not some flat surface she can walk on. But apparently she mis-stepped, and PLUNK! into the drink she went.

Anyway, drag the frantic dog out. She seems not to be at Death’s Door. Lock her out of the pool area, try to dry her with a towel. She’s having none o’that.

Now she’s soaked. The stuff Jim the Pool Dude has been putting in the pool to keep the algae under control really irritates my skin and presumably will do the same to her (expensively, no doubt), so now I have to shampoo her. She wouldn’t let me get near her long enough to grab her and drag her over to the hose, so whenever I get the chemicals washed off myself and out of my hair, I’ll have to put her in the tub and wash her off with the hose-end shower thingie.

Run inside. Jump in the shower and scrub the chemicals off me and out of my hair.

Chase down the dog. Wrestle her into the bathtub, Shampoo her all over, rinse (…fight fight fight fight…), pour hair conditioner all over her, rinse (…fight fight fight fight…), realize the conditioner is still all over the tub’s floor and that makes it too slippery for me to stand up; crawl out of the tub verrrreeee carefulleeee, grab a towel, start to wipe down the dog; realize the conditioner and even some shampoo are still in the dog fur, rinse the dog again and again and again and again (...fight fight fight fight…fight fight fight fight…fight fight fight fight…fight fight fight fight…fight fight fight fight…); haul her out of the tub again, try to dry her off (shake shake shake shake shake…all over the bathroom walls, cabinetry, and floors); give up and let her wander off (shake shake shake shake shake down the hallway); retrieve scouring powder and Simple Green, scrub the bathtub & shower surround, rinse the bathtub, then dry the bathroom walls, dry the bathroom floor, dry the bathroom door, dry me.

Holy shit! You know those little round red bruises us old people get on our arms? Yeah. Now I’ve got FOUR new ones on the right arm. Where, I presume, she dinged me with her claws.

Man, I really got a snootful jumping in. Went running this morning, before this little drama happened. That was enough to confirm that the chronic cough/scratchy throat are NOT covid but, as suspected and fervently hoped, allergies. Both those annoyances disappeared after a little steady, deep breathing. But now my throat hurts again and I’m coughing again.

Dog is snorking. Worried that she breathed water into her lungs,. Vet won’t be open for an hour. Can’t afford the emergency vet; besides, it would take almost an hour to get there, anyway.

But forthwith she stops. Seems to be fine.

Ugh. I’d started letting her into the pool area a week or so ago, because every time I go swimming she has a barking frenzy. She stands at the gate and raises holy Hell. Put her in the house? She stands at the back door and raises holy Hell. If she can come over to the pool, she shuts up and just trots around the perimeter, peering at me.

Heeee! Where she delivered a scratch, I’ve got a long fancy red thin line  extending north-northwest from one of the new elegant red spots. Ah, and she poked a little hole to the north of that. Heh! Looks like a geometry lesson: “what is the angle between ab and cd in an isosceles triangle?” 😀

Good thing I’m too old to care what I look like anymore!


Do you ever have some deep regret come back and haunt you? Something you could have done, you should have done, you didn’t do…

Greta, of all the dogs in my life, all the many dogs, was the one dog I’ve loved more than any other dog, and quite possibly more than any other human. She was the most superb spirit I’ve ever known, through 75 years on this endless earth.

We’d acquired Greta the German Shepherd from some neighbors who divorced. I don’t know how old she was, but I think she was around four, maybe even five years old at the time. She was fully grown, settled into calm maturity when we acquired her.

A few years later my son was born. Then a few years after that, we moved uptown to a new old house in a new old neighborhood. Greta came with us. By then we’d gone through two other German shepherds and a Labrador retriever. If Greta was three when we got her, she was eight when we moved to North Central.

Another three years or so went by.

Greta liked to take the sun in the back yard, loafing outside the big Arcadia doors that opened off the living room.

This one late morning I happened to look out there and saw her laying there in a puddle of her own urine.

I had been told, back in the day, that when an elderly dog became incontinent, that was the end of its life: the time had come to put the dog down.

Steeling myself, I called the vet, put her in the car, and drove her down there.

This vet was a friend of mine. But he wasn’t around when we got down to his office. The receptionist told me to take a seat in the waiting area, which I did.

Greta was actually OK. She was just kind of doddering around, looking a little puzzled.

Across the room was a man and his…whatever the f*ck she was…girlfriend, abused wife, concubine, WTF. He had a nondescript dog with him, large and pit-bullish.

Greta is just standing there. She’s not doing anything to anyone.

The guy suddenly growls at me, “Keep that dog away from me. If you don’t, I will let my dog go and it will kill your animal.”


I was so stunned by this attack I didn’t know what to say.

He repeated his threat, into my silence. And then he repeated it again.

I got up, handed Greta over to the receptionist, and left.


First, why did I not tell the receptionist (who had walked out of the room when this happened) that this guy was threatening me and she should either tell him to leave or call the police?

Why did I not turn to his miserable little woman and say, “Hey, sister: pay attention. A man who will mistreat another woman and some aging dog will do the same to you. Get away, bitch, while you can!”

Why did I not say to the little bastard, “Make my day!”

Why did I leave my beloved dog there?

Why did I not ask, “Is there something that can be done about her incontinence? Can we fix this, even if just for a little while?”

Well. In those days I didn’t have my day made by confrontation. Today I’d take that sh!thead on, even if I had to do it with my bare hands. Today I’d have a cell phone, and I would call the police and say some rabid guy was threatening to sic his dog on me and I needed a cop there right away. Today at the very least I would have started shouting at the top of my lungs for Jerry, my veterinary friend.

In those days, I’d never heard of a UTI. And even if I had heard of it, there may not have been the antibiotic treatments we have now.

In those days, I’d been told, more than once, that when an agèd dog loses control of its bladder or bowels, the kindest thing is to put it down.

In those days, a woman stayed quiet, lady-like.

In those days, I never would even have thought of standing up to a male.

Every now and again, this vignette comes back to me — like now — and reduces me to tears.

Ruby to the Rescue!

So we’re strolling along a sidewalk in Lower Richistan. It’s after noon, Ruby having had to wait until the Human got back from church to extract a DoggyWalk. As we approach the border of Upper Richistan, we spot a black cat up ahead. It’s messing with something on the sidewalk, presumably some prey it’s killed.

Ruby is more interested in wallowing in the neighbors’ lawns — her favorite pastime, since most yards in the po’ folks’ part of the ‘Hood are desert-landscaped, grass being something that is put out of the hoi polloi’s reach by the cost of water here. So I suggest, “Ruby! Lookit that cat. Git that cat!”

Of course she can’t get it, because she’s stuck on a leash. If I didn’t think she’d chase the thing to Yuma, I’d unhook her. But she can’t be trusted not to run out in front of a car or to follow the cat to Timbuktu. However, the cat hears me and so notices our approach, and it runs away.

I expect to find a dead bird or rat on the sidewalk. But…nay!

It’s a freaking tortoise! A little desert tortoise (endangered species!) about six or eight inches long and around five inches wide. It peeks its head out from its shell to see what the heck.

I ask a kid biking around on a neighbor’s front yard if he knows who belongs to the tortoise. He pretends not to hear me. He’s only about 10, but already his parents have trained him to recognize WT and not respond. Snobsville, and we ain’t even in Snottsdale. Hm.

Not wanting to leave the critter to amble across the roads, I pick it up.

Tortoise recoils inside his shell. Then sticks his head out, realizes he’s in the air, and sticks out his fiercely clawed little feet, which he now uses to try to force the human to unhand him.

I’m trying to figure out how to get a grip on him that’ll last long enough to carry him home, when voilà! Hustling up the sidewalk comes a tribe of dithering humans, led by a visibly distressed female.

“Have you seen a tortoise?” asks the chieftain. She’s so upset she’s almost in tears, and the males she has in tow are not in much better shape.

“You mean this one?”

They practically genuflected on the sidewalk, they were so thrilled and relieved to find their…uhm…pet.

The desert tortoise is protected by law. Fish & Game has a program where you can “adopt” a tortoise and keep it in your yard, registered and checked-on by AZ F&G. They have all sorts of regulations whereby you must house the beast. And no doubt they figured they were about to get in big trouble with Big Brother, to say nothing of losing their beloved baby.


So. Ruby saved the tortoise. And saved the day.


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.


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©