Coffee heat rising

Summertime, and the Livin’ Is…Keeriminey!!!

Okay, so…one good thing: Out the door with the dog at 4:30 this morning.

This meant we dodged the wee-hours dog-walker rush — in 112-degree weather, everybody and their little brother, sister, dogs, and puppies swarm the neighborhood streets and the park at 5:00 a.m. Not that I don’t love my fellow humans and their dogs, but…well…yeah: their out-of-control dogs when combined with my out-of-control dog add up to a damned nuisance and an annoying start to the day.

Yesterday I thought maybe I could avoid some of that by walking around the park twice (a one-mile circuit: I’m trying to get in two miles a day), on the far side of the road. The park is overrun at dawn, with people who think our neighborhood park is their private dog park. And no…across the street is not so great. There was some stupid woman in there with TWO big dogs off the leash, chasing around like rockets on high-test fuel after toys she was joyfully tossing for them. And here and there, other dog-lovers letting their “fur-babies” run around loose.

By circumnavigating the park, I hoped to avoid the elderly lady who has invaded my favorite circuit around Upper and Lower Richistan. She’s very sweet and I’d like to get to know her, but not around two nuisancey little dogs — hers and mine. She has an ill-tempered Shi-Tsu that goes batshit when it sees Ruby coming up the street and starts barking and lunging and yanking around. The old gal, who said she was 93 years old, has braces on both legs and limps along with not one but two canes while trying to control her fractious pooch. Of course, when Ruby sees this hound coming at her, she tries to lunge into battle, too, so now I have to struggle and fight to keep her under control. All the while worrying that the sweet old lady is going to be yanked off her feet and thrown on the pavement!

Augh.

Well, the park route proved not to be such a great idea, because of the chronic law-breakers over there. (It is against the law — city, county, and state — to let your dog run around off the leash.) (And no, I don’t need anymore dog fights: three is enough, for this pooch.) Which is why I started walking through the Richistans in the first place.

Guess I’m not the only one who had that idea. 😀

At any rate, hitting the road a half-hour earlier this morning seems to have resolved the problem. We didn’t encounter the Shi-Tsu lady, nor did we meet many other dog-lovers. We passed the lady with the gigantic Bernese mountain dog — what a critter! He, despite his vastness, is well behaved and quiet. We passed the guy with the lab-like Heinz-57: ditto…a well-behaved and quiet dog. We came up behind the big, hefty-looking gay guy with the two wee little toy poochie things, always an amazing sight. But that was it. A cat tried to follow us home from Lower Richistan, but gave up when it noticed we were drifting into the slums.

It is hotter than the hubs of Hades here. AC is pounding away most of the time. My son is getting $500 power bills in that leaky old house of his. I suggested he bring his dog and camp out here until the end of August, but of course (being sane) he’s having none of that noise.

The pool, which tends to haze, looked clear when I got up this morning but by the time I’d finished breakfast was full of London Fog again, despite my having poured in about 8 or 10 ounces of granulated chlorine as dawn cracked this morning.

Dumped in another pound of chlorine; Cl level is now back up to around 4 ppm, fairly high. This will drop quickly, because chlorine degrades in sunlight.

…some things, you don’t wanna know…

NEVER have I had so much trouble with the chemical balance in this pool — and I’ve been tending it for 16 years. I’ve about come to the conclusion that I need to have the damned Pebblesheen jackhammered off and replaced with old-fashioned white plaster, which IMHO looks better and which is one helluva lot easier to maintain.

You cannot get it clean to save your life. Because the surface is coarse — like fine gravel in asphalt — it eats up a pool brush if you try to brush the walls and floors. Literally pulls the plastic bristles out, which then get into the pool cleaner and break the damn thing. That’s OK, because the surface itself will soon destroy Harvey, and I’ll have to replace him with a new $400 cleaner that has wheels on it — which, we’re told, will break quickly under the strain of running over this stuff. Algae settles into the coarse surface’s billions of pores, so brushing is futile, anyway: the only way to dislodge it is by scouring it down with a hard spray of water from the hose. That’s not practical in the winter:  to clean the walls & steps with water spray, you have to get into the water. Result: haze and algae curtains. So you’re constantly dumping chlorine into the drink, which BLEACHES the damn blue Pebblesheen! So now that expensive new surface is not blue: it’s blotchy yellow (bleached spots) and green (algae) and blue (Pebblesheen waiting to be bleached).

I suspect there’s something about the chemical composition of the surface that bollixes up the water chemistry. I cannot keep the chlorine levels up to save my life. Last night after dark, I poured in a dose of chlorine — the dose I’d administered in the morning having burned out in the 112-degree sunlight. This morning I dumped 3/4 pound of granulated Cl in there — which should have sufficed nicely for the day. That was around 6:30 a.m. By 9 a.m, a test kit  registered ZERO chlorine in there. Actually, that’s with two different brands of test kit. (Yeah: it did occur to me that maybe something was off with HD’s kits, so I bought one from Leslie’s y’day). (No, nothing is wrong with the Home Depot kit…)

Two and a half hours later, and ALL the chlorine is gone????? Huh uh. Something is seriously wrong there

On reflection, it occurs to me that the Swimming Pool Service & Repair guy may have failed to apply chlorine stabilizer when he did the start-up after the pool was refilled. Seems unlikely — this IS their business and they’ve been doing it for years. How could you forget that little detail?

But…it would explain why the chemicals go haywire within a few hours after application.

Whenever I get my act together today, I need to return the wimpy test kit Leslie’s sold me (I found a better one on Amazon, same price, more options, better vials, better chemicals). While I’m there I’ll ask them about the stabilizer issue. It would be good if they had a liquid form (stabilizer is basically cyanuric acid). Some brands of pool chlorine incorporate CYA — particularly chlorine tablets. These were pushing up the acid levels so high that the Leslie’s guy recommended using granulated Cl — which may be the problem right there. If the granulated product doesn’t contain CYA, then…duh! No wonder the water’s clouding up.

I personally prefer the granulated product, which you simply broadcast over the surface occasionally. It seems less nuisancey to me than keeping track of the damned floating pool tab holders and wrestling with alarming potentially explosive tablets every time you turn around. But…hm. But. If the tabs will hold down the haze, that may be the first recourse in a series of strategic steps:

  1. Try the tablets again;
  2. Pounce Leslie’s affable manager and interrogate him about the stabilizer issue;
  3. Possibly buy and add stabilizer…

Which I sure would ‘druther not be hassled with.

Speaking of hassle, on Monday I go in to get yet another goddamn actinic keratosis frozen off my hide.

This has gotten very old, indeed…. A forty-minute drive each way, a fun doctor’s visit, and then a wound to have to care for over the next week or two.

Yesterday, to my horror and amazement, I learned that the current thinking among researchers is that actinic keratoses are not discrete phenomena. Instead, they represent what is called a “field disease,” especially where they crop up repeatedly in the same patch of skin. The theory is that they represent a larger area of diseased tissue. And the suggestion? Treat that area with a chemical, as well as freezing off each flare-up. “The management of multiple AKs is a long-term prospect, with no clear cure,” we’re told. “The best approach is the sequential treatment with a lesion-directed and a field-directed therapy.”

This, quite frankly, does not sound very pleasant. It entails applying a topical gel that singes your skin and can elicit some interesting allergic reactions. Monday I’ll have to take a printout of the article to the doc’s office and ask them if they don’t think they should prescribe one of the recommended drugs. Which, no, I would rather not use. But…besides the hassle and discomfort of these goddamn things (each one itches and hurts at the same time), the fact is they can convert to squamous cell carcinoma in short order. And that stuff will kill you just as dead as malignant melanoma will.

In other precincts: this heat is making me freaking comatose. I have not gotten anything done. Have not posted another section of Fire-Rider. Have not tried to get back to writing Ella. Have not done much house maintenance other than struggle with the pool (many other projects await the human’s attention). Have done little else but eat and sleep. And clean the pool. 😀

Yuch! Don’t buy Precise brand dog food!!!

AJ’s, my favorite overpriced grocery store, sells a couple of dog food brands for the fussy pet owner. Even though I make most of Ruby’s food, I do add a quarter cup of kibble per serving, since the stuff is laced with vitamins and you never know whether you’re getting the right nutritional balance in a pot of chicken or pork mix. Plus a piece of kibble works nicely as a doggy treat. I’ve been using the “Precise” brand, whose small bags I keep in the freezer by way of combatting the pantry moth plague.

This morning I go to dish up a topping, and ECH! Out comes a congealed chunk of mildew!

WTF? Look around in there, and by damn, there’s more of it!

So this morning I carted it up to AJ’s manager. She took a sniff of it, said “ew! it even smells bad!” and gave me a gift card for the full value. She remarked that she’d heard they’d been having “issues” with dog food…this must be one of ’em!

If you can avoid buying dog kibble at all, bully for you. In any event, whatever you buy, don’t get Precise brand products.

Attacked!

Yesterday evening Ruby and I were trotting through lower Richistan, past a house that a young couple with kids is renovating, when the morons’ 80-pound German shepherd roared out of their front yard and attacked my little 25-pound corgi. I tried to grab her and pick her up off the ground, but every time I’d reach for her, the dog came after me. Ruby, meanwhile, being a shepherd dog herself, after a second of terrified shrieking, shifted into full defensive mode and launched herself at the attacker.

Fortunately, the pooch’s humans heard me screaming and came running to call off their dog. But not before the animal had harassed and terrified me and my dog.

One of their cute little kids hollered after me, as I was stalking off down the street having delivered to the parents a volley of…uhm, shall we say “vulgar criticism” at high volume, I’m sowwy!

{sigh}

God, but I am tired of stupid. What IS it about people that they think neither common sense nor the leash laws apply to them and they can do as they please as long as a cop isn’t standing there watching?

Our house. Can you believe this place went on the market recently at over a million dollars?

True: it’s scary living here. I was among the cohort who gentrified Phoenix’s historic (and now spectacularly overpriced)  Encanto district. The ’Hood is effectively the New Encanto. And we have similar problems with transients, crime, and endless assaults on our quality of living by moneyed interests that own the city government. Encanto had (and still does have) many more transients than we see up here. Its Zip code had the highest per-capita drug use rate in the city, and the crazy (sometimes horrifying) incidents occurred so often that our office manager used to ask me, come Monday mornings, what new tale I had to tell. And I usually had one.

What were those tales? Ohhh…the day a burglar murdered an elderly neighbor by chopping her to death with an axe he found in her garage. The night a man tried to bump a lock in the exterior door of a room next to where I was sitting in front of the television (and was within about a second of succeeding when I realized what the noise was, ran to the front door, and screamed FIRE!!!!!!! at the top of my lungs). The cat burglar/rapist on the roof. The guy who watched a neighbor until he knew when her husband was out of town (which was fairly frequently), cased the house until he found the only window that wasn’t wired for a burglar alarm, climbed through it, and spent the night beating and raping her. Little things like that…

Consequently, I’ve had German shepherds all of my adult life. And I’ve had them explicitly as protection dogs. Only now that I no longer have the physical strength to handle a large, high-drive dog have I switched to smaller breeds. Here’s what I’ve observed about the breed, after several decades of handling its representatives.

First lemme tell you somethin’: if you bought yourself a GerShep to protect your kids and their buxom mother, you need to know about German shepherds. And you need to have better sense than to leave your dog out in an unfenced front yard.

The German shepherd has been harmed in many ways by overbreeding to develop “guard” tendencies. The result is often an unstable disposition, which can make for a very dangerous dog. Consequently, if you choose to own a German shepherd, you need to keep it under control at all times, and you need to be aware of its power and its potential to do harm. Yes: my shepherds have chased off home invaders (one poor guy is still running…said to be approaching Siberia about now).

Yes: my shepherds made it possible for me to walk around Encanto Park as a nicely endowed young woman without harassment. But I’ve also had a shepherd that tried to attack my mother-in-law and then me and then a veterinarian – the vet explained that some breeds are prone to a kind of mental illness that causes this behavior, and that once such a dog launches into an attack, it cannot be called off. This, he added, is the direct result of ill-advised breeding practices. If, like me, you’re a German shepherd fan, you should be aware that these conditions exist.

A German shepherd is like a .38. You don’t leave your revolver sitting on the coffee table. Similarly, don’t leave your German shepherd sitting around an unfenced yard and don’t let it off the leash in public. It’s a good thing to protect yourself – but not if you put innocent people’s safety at risk.

Harmless as the new-blown snow…

Dog Joy!

What a wonderful morning!

I thought I was supposed to be down at the church office shortly after dawn cracked, to stand in for one of the volunteer receptionists. So I arrive, plug in the computer (having brought 27 pages of client copy to while away the time), and settle in.

Shortly, in pops the Boss Volunteer.

“Hey! You’re supposed to be here this afternoon. I’m on this morning.”

😀

Well. Ahem. Naturally I suggest that if she wants the morning off, I’d be happy to switch. (“Happy” being a highly qualified term in this context.) What a shame: she has to pick up the grandchild shortly after 12:30.

Out the door like a rocket!

Arrive back at the Funny Farm to find the dog moping under the toilet in the back bathroom. (Don’t ask: I have no clue why the dog thinks the cubby under the toilet amounts to a dog den.) At the words let’s go for a doggy walk, she shoots out of the bathroom and flies to the front door

Out the door like two rockets!

It’s still cool enough to manage a mile-and-a-half circuit of the ’Hood.  It’s a strangely lovely little enclave of affluence, despite being bordered on two sides by drug-ridden slums.

Over in Lower Richistan, one house harbors a huge, beautiful jacaranda tree, now in full, brilliant blue bloom. It is the most gorgeous tree you could ever hope to see.

Across the lane into Upper Richistan, an elderly lady lives in a big old sprawling mansion of a ranch house on about an acre of land, which she keeps up like a park. Her property is meticulously, spectacularly groomed. Most days when we pass there, her yard service, whose proprietors dub themselves “Paradise Ponds and Gardens,” are there puttering around. They must visit almost every day. The place reflects it, too.

Other shacks there are less ostentatiously landscaped but equally tidy — they don’t require a gardener’s daily attention, but nevertheless they’re expensively mown and trimmed.

As usual, we run into morons. Honestly…it’s hard to understand how some people ever learn to tie their shoelaces….

First one is putzing up Feeder Street NW, evidently in no hurry. The hound and I are stopped on the sidewalk, under the stop sign that clearly says traffic crossing Feeder is to cede the right of way. We wait for him to go by.

But no. Ohhh, nooooo! He’s polite. And the little dog is so cute he’s driven to feel even more polite. He stops his car. I wait for him to go by. He waves his paw at me, a sappy grin on his face: go ahead go ahead!

I hate that. I just hate it when some idiot thinks he’s doing me a favor by stopping in the right of way and frantically motioning to proceed in front of him — illegally. What the hell is the matter with people?

Does he really think that my standing there for three whole seconds while his car passes by is THAT big an inconvenience to me? Does he seriously believe he’s doing me some great favor with this silly trick? Does he truly not grasp the concept that urging someone to cross a road illegally puts that person at risk?

God, but people are stupid.

This particular brand of stupidity irritates me most radically because I once got T-boned when some idiot stopped, waved me across in front of him (and the as-yet unnoticed guy tooling along in the lane to his left…), and I took him up on it. With my infant son in the car. In that case, we had two idiots in collaboration: him and me.

So we make a loop through the forested lanes. On the homeward leg, toward our low-rent tract, we encounter a woman with a large furry dog in tow. She is not paying the slightest bit of attention to anything that’s going on around her. She holds a phone up to her ear. From the phone blares a stream of dopey-sounding music. She is, in a word, entranced…

Not caring to discuss the time of day with her barely-under-control dog, I cross the road so as to put some distance between us and the oblivious woman and her not-at-all oblivious beast.

It notices. It lunges at Ruby, growling and barking.

Recovering from nearly being jerked off her feet, the Blithe Soul coos, “Ohhhh, what a cute little dog!”

“Uhm… Uh huh.”

“Grrrrrrrr ARF ARF ROARRRRRgrrrrrrrrrrrr”

“He’s really friendly. I usually let him off the leash so they can play!”

holy shit! “Please don’t!”

I dodge across Feeder Street Northwest, hoping some driver in a ball-busting hurry will come blasting between us. Fortunately, she’s too interested in the racket coming out of her toy to pursue the idea.

At any rate, it was a beautiful morning (and remains a beautiful day). The little dog was beside herself with doggy joy to come out from under the toilet and circumambulate the neighborhood. That was a very, very happy dog.

Human, too.

I realized that I was secretly (not so secretly, maybe) relieved not to have to sit here all morning, editing a client’s copy while nothing much happened in the office.

Indeed, a small revelation dawned:

What do I want to do in retirement? What do I most want to do with the small portion of time remaining to me?

I’ll tell you what I wanna do.

I want to loaf.

I do not want to work.
I do not want to master some hobby.
I do not want to participate in volunteer efforts.
I do not want to lobby for some worthy political candidate.
I do not want to travel.

All I want to do is loaf.

That is, I wish to do as little as possible. Nothing, preferably.

Nothing is plenty enough to keep me busy.

Today, for example, I need to traipse up to Home Depot to pick up a bag or two of potting soil, therewith to plant some new chard and refresh a number of other plants.  While there, I probably should get a basil plant to replace the one that’s expiring of old age.
Or maybe go by AJ’s and spend too much money on something good to eat.
Or take the dog for another walk.
Or just anything that does not require the expenditure of anything resembling mental or physical energy.

Loafing. The highest and best use of one’s time.

Flutterbyes and Flowers and Springtime

What a gorgeous morning! Cool but not crisp, birds flying around building nests, honeybees darting about the citrus blossoms, which perfume the air like some kind of exotic tropical flowers. Over coffee this morning I spotted a dainty little white butterfly competing with the apis species. Looked very much like this little guy…

Most low desert urbanites hate the citrus flowering season, because they wrongly imagine the highly perfumed blossoms aggravate their allergies. And if you didn’t already have respiratory allergies before you came to Arizona, you soon get them. 😀 But the truth is, plants that attract pollinators by scent are not especially allergenic. What stuffs up your nose and makes you wheeze are blossoms that are pollinated by wind, whose pollen wafts aloft and floats into your schnozz. The worst offender in these parts, believe it or not, is the ponderosa pine, which covers the Mogollon Rim. Despite the depredations of pine bark beetles and drought, Arizona has the largest ponderosa pine forest in the world. And its pollen soars down off the rim and settles into the Valley each spring, where it wreaks havoc with the flatlanders’ noses.

Ruby the Corgi is having a sh!tfit. Someone must be walking their dog past the house. Either that or another bum is stumbling by.

Yesterday she had a merry ride out to Sun City, where we were invited to dinner with SDXB and NG. Normally, when schlepping dogs around, I lay the back seats down flat and, in the present annoying Venza, stuff old bed pillows into the gap between the half-a$$ed cargo compartment and the back seat, so a sudden brake doesn’t fling the dog down in there and break the beast’s leg. Or neck. Normally, Ruby huddles in terror by the back gate, hoping to get out at the earliest possible moment. This is a behavior she learned from Cassie, the Late Queen of the Universe. Cassie truly hated riding in cars.

Running late, though, yesterday afternoon I decided to leave the seat-backs up and just lift her onto the seats. The menacing well between the front and back seats was already crammed with pillows, so…why bother with pointlessly heaving the backs down and then back up?

Well. It took her a little while to realize that — mirabilis! — from the vantage point of the seats she could see out the windows!

This was quite the little revelation. In evident doggy delight, she spent a fair amount of the ride migrating back and forth between the left side and the right side, gazing out at the sights and then switching to the new exotica on the other side. Very cute.

Possibly after this she’ll be less averse to riding in the car. She’s not phobic, the way M’hijito’s dog Charley is. But she hasn’t been fond of auto travel. It would be neat if she would come to like riding around.

Image

Desert white butterfly: Sarefo [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)]. Wikipedia