Coffee heat rising

Crabby Gardening Lady

Okay, stand back! I’m goin’ in!

Or off, actually. As in off the fu*kin’ wagon. There’s nothing like a nice cold bourbon and water to brighten your crabby day.

Actually, there’s nothing but bourbon and water, as I’ve unloaded all the wine and beer in the house on friends, by way of refraining from drinking it. I’m not all that nuts about bourbon, so I didn’t donate that to anyone’s cause when I went on the current wagon ride. But..well. One has to allow that bourbon does have its high points.

As it were.

For the past several weeks, I’ve thought the portulaca living in the hanging Mexican pots and growing in ground pots over by the west wall was being eaten by some kind of insect. What kind of insect escaped me, since as far as I know we don’t have anything around here just now that’s capable of stripping the leaves off a portulaca. And even if we did…hmmm…well, the leaves are laying on the ground, not occupying space in some bug’s innards.

Soo… I google “leaf drop portulaca” and discover lo! the main cause of leaf drop in elephant-food plants is overwatering.

Overwatering????? WTF? The watering schedule is exactly the same as it is every summer in these parts: 20 minutes a day, early in the morning, leaving about 14 or 16 hours of sunlight to dessicate the soil in those pots. If you don’t water a potted plant every day in these parts, it will croak over by nightfall. In the summertime, that is.

And summertime is what we’ve had, with a vengeance. It’s been hotter than the hubs of Hades for the past three months. It’s 100° out there, as we scribble. This morning when I took the dog out, humidity was 52%; now, at a little after noon, the air has dried out to a mere 22%, which isn’t quite what I’d call “a dry heat.” It’s particularly not “dry” when you need to work outside but you’re required to cover every square inch of your skin to keep from exposing any part of you to the sun.

That humidity isn’t so horribly high, but we’ve had very little rain. Effectively, “monsoon” season passed us over this year. It just didn’t happen. We got humid, stuffy, yucky, Georgia-summer air, that’s true. But precious little rain.

So I would’ve thought, if anything, that the problem was the plants were underwatered.

But now I think not: the pots’ soil is soggy. If it’s been that wet for the whole summer, well…yeah. The succulents could very well be drowning.

Meanwhile, the rest of the garden has been mightily neglected. The spider plants are dancing the hula in skirts of dead leaves. The calla lilies, also apparently overwatered, are curling up and dying. The bulb thingies Joan gave me are barely clinging to life. The citrus needs to be fertilized. My neighbor Terri’s accursed pepper tree has again seeded the yard, so half a dozen baby invaders need to be sprayed. One of the pots of chard croaked over in the summer heat: new seeds need to be tracked down and planted in that thing.

Ugh. How do I want to work in this heat? Let me count the ways…not…

That profound non-desire notwithstanding, I charged out and cut back dead stuff, cut back dead stuff, cut back more dead stuff. Transplanted one very sick-looking spider out of the pot it had outgrown into a much larger pot that had enough soil to accommodate it…noted that said plant, too, appears to have been overwatered. Dragged three bags of debris out to the garbage, along with two trashcans full of household garbage that was living (heh) in the garage.

Turned off the watering system. Made a calendar note to check soil moisture on Sunday and turn the water back on, as indicated. If indicated.

Having no potting soil, I was unable to transplant the suffering portulaca in the hanging pots. The next time I’m out running around — which will be tomorrow — I’ll stop by a nursery or Home Depot and buy a bag of dirt; then figure out what on earth to do with those things. While there, I’ll get a packet of chard seeds and drop them into the bereft chard pot.

Now we await the defrosting of the scallops, which we intend to stir-fry with garlic and pine nuts and serve up over some lovely chard  + spinach, possibly curried  (there’s not enough chard in that pot to supply a meal just now). Yes. Possibly curried, or possibly just smothered in Pomí tomatoes, which handsomely approximate a decent tomato sauce.

One Don’t-Wanna DONE!

Admitted: I’ve let the Don’t-Wanna tasks pile up. You know: those little nagging chores that need to be done but can be put off. And put off. And put off some more…

The present case in point: a mound of Mexican primrose that has grown in the backyard for several years. Some there are who regard this plant as invasive, but in my experience it stays where you put it. Assuming, of course, that you put it in a flowerbed, not broadcast seeds over a hillside… 😀

Well, the primrose around the pool is very happy, but over the past year some kind of bug got into the backyard mound.  Because gardening is a laissez-faire proposition here at the Funny Farm, I never got around to doing battle with the critters. Think I sprayed them a couple times with dilute Dawn detergent — an effective insecticide, but you have to get it on the little beasts. And because the mound is kind of out of sight from the back porch and the pool area, it’s been out of mind, too.

Result: as spring is sproinging, those plants are nothing but sticks. Green sticks, promising a possible resurrection. But sticks. Meanwhile, the pool is alive with beautiful pink flowers, and some are even growing in the crevices between the flagstones. So it doesn’t look like the mound is going to come back this year.

So this morning being unduly cool, I trotted out there and pulled up or broke off all the denuded sticks. Presumably it will soon grow back — it’s hard to kill this stuff. And when it does revive, I’ll have to remember to mist it with Dawn every week or two.

A-n-n-n-n-d…what else remains to be done, having been put off interminably through all the tolerably cool winter months?

  • Trim back the plants along the east and west ends of the pool, which now block passage to all but the most intrepid of sherpas.
  • Pull out the primrose that’s gone a bit wild in its adopted home between the flagstones
  • Replace the now very agèd chard (it’s lasted a good four years!!) with new grown-from-seed babes
  • Clean out the flowerbed around the olive in front. That’ll take half a day.
  • Pull out dead plants in pots on west side; replant or else haul the pots away. Figure out why they’re not getting watered adequately.
  • Put Luis up to removing the overgrown Texas ranger in front. Get him to thin the trees.
  • Fertilize and deep-water the roses
  • Treat paloverde, Texas ebony, and desert willow with borer killer

None of these is very difficult. And in fact, despite a year of neglect and the rainiest winter on recent record, there just isn’t all that much that needs to be done.

This house is absurdly easy to take care of. But of course…I planned it that way.

It’s such a pretty little house now, I really don’t want to move: bum invasion, Conduit of Blight, Gangbanger’s Way, and outsized property taxes notwithstanding.

My friends who moved to the Beatitudes retirement home sicced that place’s marketing department on me. This morning a woman from their sales office called and asked if I wouldn’t like to take the grand tour and listen to her pitch.

Well. Sure. I’m willing to do that. They’re building a whole sub-campus of patio homes that look to me one helluva lot better than an apartment in a vertical hive. So yeah: I’m curious.

But…the fact still remains: I don’t wanna move out of here.

What I really would like is to live here until I die. Which is not at all out of the question, given how minimalist the maintenance tasks are. All that would be needed to keep me here into my full dotage will be a competent cleaning lady and a good yard dude. A decent handyman would be nice, too. And no matter how many people I have to hire to keep this place up and myself in food and clean clothes, the cost would be nothing compared to the cost of living in one of those old-folkeries.

And despite the Bum Express delivering drug-addicted derelicts to our front doorsteps, the fact is that this is one of the few even vaguely affordable in-town neighborhoods — if you think of $350,000+++ as “affordable.” Young people have discovered it. And they’re gentrifying in swarms. Just on Ruby’s short doggy-walk circuit, four houses are being renovated, big-time. One fix-&-flipper just sold for $729,000 — an outrageous amount that represented a shameless rip-off of an elderly single man, that’s true: but there it is. It still goes on the record as what these houses are “worth.” Even though that price is ridiculous, it nevertheless will push our values inexorably upward.

At this point, I could afford to move to Prescott, a sweet and scenic little burg where property values are inflated by incoming Californians. If my son didn’t live here, I probably would. But as long as he’s in these parts, I expect I will be, too.

Singed and Frozen

In the “froze” department, it’s supposed to drop down to 33 degrees here this week. For the Valley of the We-Do-Mean Sun, that is very cold. Many of the ornamental plants would be damaged by that chill even if they were used to it…which they are not. We haven’t seen freezing or even near-freezing temperatures here in years.

Light and even hard frosts used to be pretty commonplace — at least a few crisp nights every winter. But that has gone away, thanks to the heat island effect and the climate warming that we’re so credibly assured doesn’t exist.

Tonight, though, it’s already freaking cold out there and it’s only 7:30. So it was out to the storage shed, there to unearth the dusty old drop cloths I once used as frost protection. Covered one of the bougainvillea with a couple of those. The other three will just have to get by. One on the west side is pretty well sheltered by the big paloverde, though Luis cut the tree back so drastically this spring that it may not provide much cover. The other one is more sandwiched between the back wall, a garage wall, the eaves, and a bunch of plants…it’s usually not harmed much. The one on the east side will freeze back, and there’s not much I can do about that. Even when I’ve covered it in the past, it’s managed to shrivel up.

Bougs, however, are resilient. In fact, they may even like freezing almost to the ground. The following spring they come back, especially if you trim off the dead stuff.

Things on the back porch that are really house plants in this climate…uhmmm….not so good. I did find a shop light and managed to clip it to a wooden chair next to the ficus on the back porch (Unless I remember to turn off the irrigation as dawn cracks, water will come on tomorrow morning and that will create a pool around the ficus’s pot. The woodwork should keep the electric light out of the water…unless it rains…). With the fiberglass panels off the top of the pergola out there, the back porch gets a lot colder than it did. So stuff that did not have to be covered in the past now…does. The ficus, though, grew ecstatically when it was moved and it was freed from the fiberglass roof. It’s now so huge there’s no way I can wrap it effectively with old sheets and curtains.

In the “singed” (as in hot) department: I inflicted a second-degree burn on a wrist a couple days ago, in a moment of stupidity. Oh well. Naturally, this was right before Christmas, when you can’t get in to see anyone for love nor money. A nurse at the Mayo, having quizzed me on the key issues, decided it was relatively minor and advised me to apply antibiotic cream (not ointment) and bandage it.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus Public Health Image Library (PHIL)

By this morning, the burn was beginning to heal, but now I had a crop of hives all over my hand and wrist. I figured — damn! — I must have developed an allergy to the stuff they make bandage stickum with. The Walgreen’s generic variety of these things was $2 cheaper than the Bandaid version — for a generous serving of seven bandages! So I’d bought the cheapo version. Maybe that wasn’t the best idea.

Or….hmmmm….  While this was going on, a fine (and very painful) boil sprang up on my face, next to the nose. I’ve had these before — they hurt, they look like hell, and then they go away. And I’ve had them on my hands and arms. But…so…what if these hive things are not hives but actually are some kind of infection along the same lines of said carbuncles? They don’t exactly hurt…they itch, suggesting hives. But I’ve never had an allergic reaction to bandage stuff or latex in my entire lengthy life. What if…what if…what if this is actually an infection, as usual on the eve of a major holiday, conveniently running up against a weekend…

So I call the new dermatologist. To my astonishment, they get me in to see a nurse practitioner TODAY!

She opines that the pimply bumps are probably hives. But then she notices the chronic irritation around my nose (where, interestingly, the giant zit/boil/whateverthefuckitis is now half-healed. She asked if I’ve ever had that treated. I say I’ve tried but no one has ever been able to do anything about it. No one seems to care that the outside of my nose itches all the time and the inside hurts all the time…I imagine everyone’s nose itches all the time.

She says she’d like to take some samples for lab tests. Why? Because she thinks it’s a staph infection, and she thinks it’s very possible the rash on the hand is the same thing: a staph infection. There’s an outside chance it’s a MRSA staphylococcus (a type of antibiotic-resistant bug). She writes a prescription for an ointment and says she’ll let me know the results. If she’s right, the gunk she’s prescribed will clear it up.

Well. That would be some kind of miracle. Over the years I’ve had the inside of my nose cauterized (now THAT hurt! for a good long time…and it didn’t work). I’ve tried gunk recommended by doctors (didn’t work). Have experimented with gunk of my own discovery (didn’t work). Have tried antihistamines (didn’t work).

As of this evening, I’d say at least a couple of the spots very definitely look like boils. Just what I need right next to a burn injury: a fulminating staph infection.

What have I done to offend the God of Israel?
Tell me God is not on Donald Trump’s side….

So…the Fire Prevention Scheme? How’d it work?

Hilariously.

Well, it didn’t seem funny at the time. But after a stone-cold shower and a couple hours of rest, it’s beginning to seem pretty ridiculous.

Tellya one thing, though: I will never buy another product from Home Depot again, not if there’s any way I can help it. After this, I’ll shop local and pay a few bucks extra to get a product that’s not so cheapied down as to be insulting. If push comes to shove: Lowe’s or Amazon.

Here’s the piece of junk I bought — four of them, actually, so as to cover about 120 linear feet of invitingly flammable shrubbery.

I wanted to buy a 100-foot length and a 25-foot length, or, failing that, two 50-footers and one 25 feet. But the 100-foot hose, as it turned out, was not a hose but a contraption: a kit that you had to put together with an array of cheesey plastic connectors by way of laying down a pattern to fit a garden. It had no built-in connector fittings for your garden hose — you had to DIY those along with all the other pieces of ditz.

As usual with Home Depot: back in the car, drive up to the damn store again, get my money back for the 100-foot non-hose. Replace it with four 25-foot hoses.

Notice, once home, that the new hosing is not the same gauge as the old hose I put in around the roots of the pool-side plantings. It’s considerably narrower. And considerably cheesier.

Oh well.

So I run these fine hoses along the top of the cat’s claw mounds, zip-tying them in place and planning to let water dribble on the plants for several hours. Theory: the underlayment will be good and soggy by the time the lads come around this evening to play with their illegal fireworks.

First thing that happened: as soon as I turned on the water, a SHOWER erupted from the connection to that soaker hose. I tried to patch it with duct tape: no dice. And the other hoses? Water would barely run through them, even with the faucet turned way higher than it should be with a soaking hose.

What a fiasco. I screwed around and dorked around and dorked around and screwed around, trying to find some way to make the junk work. Finally ended up dragging a garden hose over to the vines’ worst dry spot, climbing up on a ladder, and zip-tying a lawn sprinkler to the top of the vines. Realized one of the old soaker hoses (we do mean old: I put those in a good 10 years ago) was still viable, even though the other one, which was connected to it, disintegrated in my hands yesterday. Tried to drag that out from behind and around the stems and plants but it was just too damn hot to continue. Removed the hose-oid with the geyser and attached the other garden hose to the next hose in line.

This one at least didn’t release a spray into the stratosphere. But neither did it move much water into the soaker hose. Even with the water pressure turned way higher than you’re supposed to use with a soaker hose, it wouldn’t move water past about halfway down the next, attached hose.

Finally gave up — even jumping into the pool wasn’t cooling me off, the face was beet-red, and I was beginning to feel light-headed. Turned on the water so it would soak (I hoped) at least the vines directly across from Jerkowitz’s trash piles and retreated into the air-conditioning.

It is 112 degrees here as I write this, after 5 in the evening. I’m a tough old bat (so they say), but wrestling with that mess damn near gave me a heat stroke — at one point I considered whether I should call 911. Then remembered that ice water comes out of the refrigerator’s spigot so was able to soak a compress and chill down the head, bringing a stop to the wooziness. A cold shower finally did the complete job.

Man. What is the matter with a retailer that peddles crap like that to the public?

I will never buy ANY product from Home Depot again. If this is the kind of junk they feel free to foist on customers, I will pay a few bucks more to BUY LOCAL (!!!!!) and get a better product.

If Donald Trump somehow, by some God’s miracle, manages to do ONE good thing while he’s running a three-ring circus from the White House, it will, just maybe, be that he lays enough tariffs on shoddy imports from China and waypoints to force U.S. corporations to start making goods in the U.S. again. With the exception of automobiles, our products were not just out-and-out junk.***

Okay. The Fix-Or-Repair-Daily cars were a big exception. But most of our stuff: not guaranteed to be trash.

We need the jobs back. And we need the quality consumer goods back.

***Uh-oh! CTRL-Z: DELETE RANT! MD notes, below, that we can’t blame China for today’s fiasco after all: Miracle-Gro’s shoddy hoses are shoddily made right here in the good old USofA. Tsk. Well…I still blame Home Depot. It’s all Home Depot’s fault. By golly!!!!! {grump!}

“Another Beautiful Day in Arizona…”

“…Leave us all enjoy it!”

{chortle!} That was the slogan of a long, long-ago governor of Arizona, a classic specimen of the state’s political fauna. The guy had been a radio announcer before he rose to the state’s highest office. He was a bit of an ignoramus, a good ole’ boy who may or may not have feigned that style. As it developed, he was far from the most stupid of the critters we have elected to public office. Evan Mecham took that cake. Ev was the Donald Trump of the Southwest.

What a character.

Ev was so flamboyantly bizarre — and so excessively stupid — that nobody wanted to miss a minute of the sideshow. We all — every citizen of the state — went out and bought these tiny portable TVs (this was long before the day of cell phones and Google News), which we toted into the office with us. It took a year and four months to shovel him out of office. He was impeached in April 1988, when he enjoyed a criminal trial for his efforts as, uhm, governor.

It was hilarious while it lasted. But then…to have a fool for a governor is a bit different from having one as President of the United States, hm?

In less laughable climes: Just found two (!!) emergent holes of paloverde beetles under one of the beloved Arizona sweet orange trees. The monsters love citrus as much as they love paloverde trees.

That tree was peakèd this spring, so I suspected something was up. (Or…down under.) Citrus trees will go “off” once every few years, look sickly, and produce rather sad fruit. Then they revive the following year. It’s as if they need to “rest” every now and again. But I’m afraid the present anemia resulted from its roots being eaten by these goddamned bugs’ grubs, which live most of their lives underground — about 8 years. When they emerge to breed, they’re at the end of their lives — they only last a few days above ground.

Control is extremely iffy. We might say “feeble.” Virtually nothing kills them. Some years ago I found a supposed organic treatment — you apply these microbes that allegedly attack the grubs, infect them, and do them in. But after a couple of years of applying according to instructions, they didn’t do a thing.

Then a guy at Home Depot — a retired arborist come back to earn a few pennies to finance his loafing — steered me to an insecticide that he claimed, contrary to accepted wisdom, would do the grubs in if applied at the right time of year and well soaked into the ground. That stuff does work moderately well. It certainly cut the number of emergent holes, which at one point were upwards of a dozen around the paloverde tree. Since at any given time an infestation can deliver hundreds or thousands of grubs, you know that for every mature, flying beetle dozens and dozens of babes are chewing away at your trees.

The problem with said insecticide is you can’t apply it to food plants. So if I put this stuff on the oranges, I won’t be able to eat next year’s crop of oranges. And that will not be a good thing. Those oranges are like candy. I gorge on them all spring, starting in February. I can easily eat five or six for breakfast, and then pull off some more during the day.

So I’m loathe to apply it. Not only do I not want to do without next year’s crop, neither do I know whether the following year’s fruit will be safe to eat. And of course, given that this stuff certainly isn’t going to kill all of the thousands of grubs underground (there were still some emergent holes the summer after I dumped it around the paloverde tree), getting rid of them may entail having to apply it several years in a row. Or…now and evermore.

It’s very early for paloverde beetles to emerge. Forgodsake, this is only May! They normally come out at the beginning of monsoon season, which starts mid- to late July. Apparently the combination of heat, humidity, and long daylight hours calls them forth. For two of them to climb out of the ground at this time of year is pretty surprising.

A flock of a dozen whitewing doves are scarfing up the seed I put out this morning. An interested thrasher is also lurking around. Thrashers will eat paloverde beetles. I’ve seen one do battle with one of those armored bugs…and it’s quite a show! So it’s in the trees’ interest to attract some fierce and muscular flying dinosaurs…as well as their cousins, the mockingbirds.

Here’s a thing that looks sort of like a house finch, but he’s probably not getting the type of food he most needs. His head and breast are distinctly orange, not red, which (so we’re told) indicates he’s not finding food with enough pigment to make him red. When you’re a lady house finch, you tend to favor a gent with the reddest possible coloring.

And the requisite pair of Abert’s towhees are back. These fine little birds will clear out an anthole in a few days. They do a funny little dance in leaf litter that involves hopping back and forth to stir things up until they flush a sowbug or some other hapless ground-crawling critter. It is, we might say, a well fed bird in these parts.

Speaking of the paloverde tree, one of its major branches has become so heavy it has dropped down to the level of the back wall and threatens to rest on the roof. Luis the arborist said he would come by this afternoon (that would mean “some time this week, maybe”) to take a look at it.

Luis is a very fine tree guy, hampered only by the fact that he no habla a helluva lot of inglès. Old-country men have much to recommend them, specifically a kind of grace and courtliness that tempers their machismo. Not only does he have this much-to-be-desired characteristic, he also really knows how to maintain trees. Never once have I seen him hack away at a tree with a chainsaw. He trims and shapes each tree by hand, with his brain fully engaged. He knows what he’s doing, and he does it well.

My plan is to ask him if we can brace that big stem up, because (especially at this time of year!) I don’t want to lose its shade. But I can just imagine what he’ll say about that.

I may have to take out a bank loan to pay him — there wasn’t enough in the checking account to cover Chuck’s bill for the damn Venza’s new battery and also stave off bankruptcy. In addition to the paloverde tree in back, the shrubs I installed in front to block the view of the former Dave’s Used Car Lot, Marina, and Weed Arboretum ran amok this spring. It’s surprising the neighbors haven’t complained to the city about them. So there are at least three very large plants out there that need to be cut back.

devil-pod-treePlus Gerardo would like to say good-bye to the devil-pod tree on the west side. I’d like to see it go, too. But…

a) I do not wish to say good-bye to its shade, despite the unholy mess it makes; and
b) Neither do I wish to say good-bye to one of Gerardo’s cousins, who you may be sure will be sent into the treetop (which touches the stratosphere now) to hack it down; and
c) Nor do I wish to have one of those characters drop a branch on my neighbor Terri’s roof, since I very much doubt my homeowner’s insurance will cover any such antics.

I think it will require a crane to take it down safely, that’s how high the tree is now. And I’m going to afford that…how?

Sumer is y-cumen…again!

First week of April in Arizona? Summertime!

People who came here from other parts of the country think it’s already awrful hot. It’s not: yesterday the high only reached 91.

To my mind that’s fairly balmy. But I guess if you grew up in more temperate climes, it feels extreme. Oh well. Just wait till they see what it’s like on July 4. 😀

The plants are beside themselves, once again, with plant joy. The citrus has been blossoming for several weeks — tiny baby oranges, limes, and lemons have started to appear.

Just a few days ago, I planted some new chard seeds in a) a pot and b) a perennially sunbaked flowerbed. Speaking of perennial, the existing chard plants have occupied their pot for upwards of three years. Unlike other kinds of leafy vegetables, the stuff doesn’t bolt to seed in the summer (when it does sprout a seed wand, that doesn’t kill the plant), and it can live through a fairly bracing frost.

This winter some kind of tiny bug literally shaved its leaves off to their center spines. I thought the plants were done for. But lo! This spring, they sprouted new leaves.

The bugs went after them again, so I squirted a solution of Dawn all over the plants. Apparently said solution was a little too strong, though: it burned the chard’s leaves. Again, I thought it was done for, so went out and bought a package of chard seeds, figuring to have to start anew..

Nay, verily: the things have put out more new leaves. Meanwhile, the seeds — which I planted about three days ago — are already sprouting.

Would’ve thunk it?

Planted some little chrysanthemum-like things in the pot, having heard that they repel bugs. Right. We shall see about that.

In any event, they’re kind of pretty little plants, and I think they survive in the heat here.

The Mexican primrose — in reality a kind of weed, a plant that Gerardo looks at aghast — is in full, ecstatic bloom. They make a beautiful pink flower on an upright plant. And because they are quite weedish, they spread like crazy and you cannot kill them.

Lookit these orange things that sprouted from an ancient bulb. Don’t remember what they were called — if I ever knew. But aren’t they pretty?

The lantana, which began to struggle last fall and appeared to be about to wither and die, made it through the winter (to my surprise). It probably needs to be transplanted into a larger pot — lantana is a vigorous spreading critter, and I imagine it must have some space demands. Some varieties of the stuff will actually grow into a hedge in these parts.

Welp, I’d better get off my duff pretty quick. I signed up to go to a writer’s workshop here in town this afternoon. They meet on Sunday afternoons, which normally would be highly inconvenient for me (if not altogether unworkable), because most Sundays choir doesn’t unwind until after noon. Getting downtown through the wacksh!t traffic and fighting to find a parking place by 2 p.m.: not so good. But today we get a little “spring break” after the hectic doings of Holy Week: no church.

Because they meet in a fancy coffee house, you pretty much have to buy something — and we’re told a cup of plain iced coffee (hold the cream, hold the sugar, hold the fake flavoring) will put you back four bucks. Going there once a week is, shall we say, aversive to the frugalist. So…they’ll have to be pretty damn good for me to want to do this often.

The Bum Express goes right in front of the place, which would be grand if I had a friend up here who wanted to attend their meetings. But you couldn’t get me to stand around waiting for a train at the corner of Conduit of Blight and Gangbanger’s Way alone. Not on a bet. I wouldn’t like it even with another person along. But there’s no way I’d ride that thing by myself: not through our garden corner of the city.

This plan to find a writer’s group in town was occasioned by yesterday’s fiasco. The bunch I happen to favor meets in Avondale — it really is great group, the people in it very nice and smart and interesting and fun to know. But Avondale is halfway to Yuma from here.

It is an hour’s drive, door-to-door, from my house to the Avondale Civic Center, where they meet.

Yesterday the drive was enhanced by my realization, just as I turned out of the ‘Hood onto Gangbanger’s Way, that godDAMNit, I’d forgotten my credit cards & ID.

Soooo…had to turn back into the neighborhood, whereupon forthwith I got behind some poor soul who did not know where she was going and apparently had no GPS. She puttered along, blocking the road while peering back and forth and looking pretty puzzled. At one point she stopped at a tiny intersection and stood there, while she cogitated which way to turn.

All the while making me later and later and later….

Flew out of the ‘Hood, having discovered that Gangbanger’s Way is blocked up for pending goddamn lightrail construction, and headed across town on Main Drag South. This moved fairly smoothly, thank God, and I pulled up to the Avondale Library at exactly noon.

This, you understand, is actually “late,” because the guy who runs this group always starts precisely on the minute, and he expects everyone to be ready to go.

Fly to the door and find it…CLOSED.

The air conditioning has gone out and the flatland touristers who live in those far-flung HOA-ridden suburbs think 91 degrees is too hot to hold a library open.

God help us.

We’re told the meeting is moved to some branch library on the far, far southwest side.

I look at that and think…nope. Not going exploring out here. An hour of driving to get here is quite enough. Besides. I’m hungry.

So I headed home, disgusted because I did want to hear my friend’s presentation.

If you want to live in lovely Phoenix, you need to develop an appreciation for long, frustrating drives. 😀