Coffee heat rising

Still Struggling to Get Back

Wow! Despite trying to reconstitute Funny a week or three ago, I’ve drifted away again. Seems like life has devolved into one hassle after another hassle after another hassle after another.

Got an appointment this noon at the Mayo. Fortunately, it’s at the campus in Phoenix, not the one way to He!! and gone out on the far side of Scottsdale, halfway to Payson. But it’s still a long drive, most practically done over a hectic freeway where, if your car breaks down, you’re pretty much screwed. Yes, I do have a cell phone, but I hate the things and have one helluva time trying to make it work. So…if the Tank craps out, today will be even more unpleasant than it’s already slated to be.

LOL! It’s already started out on the wrong…uhm…foot(?). Needed to print out the instructions the Mayo sent  — a trick, since they sent it via their obnoxious “Portal” lash-up, whose documents will not print out from my system, meaning I had to copy and paste the thing into Word, then print it on my machine, which hung and refused to be unhung. leading to an hour of farting with computer equipment. It’s now 7:30, my nerves are on edge, I haven’t had anything to eat, the dog hasn’t been walked, the supposedly “fixed” tooth in my upper jaw that seems to have caused an eye cyst hurts (yes: did you know that dental work can cause a cyst in your eye???), and I wanna bite someone. Already I’ve had so many sh!t-fits the poor little dog is hiding under the toilet.

Boyoboy, how i do NOT wanna spend the afternoon at the Mayo being tortured?!? These tests are going to take four hours! At the end of which, you may be sure, they’re gonna say they can’t figure anything out. Because…well: because. That’s the way things go, eh?


Y’know, when IBM first brought us the PC, I was an enthusiastic early adapter. But….

Today, I’m coming to hate computers. And not hate them….

Admittedly, I spend most of my conscious hours online. If I’m not reading news or cruising the Internet, I’m playing games. Endlessly, pointlessly, time-wastingly playing games.

And really: CAN you think of a worse way to spend the last few years of your life? Seriously?

Not much time is left to me, yet here I am, wasting it diddling with stupid, pointless, meaningless, eye-glazing online games. And Quora. And Facebook.

What else could I be doing? 

Well, not much that’s any more meaningful, come to think of it.

At this time of year, I could be hiking in the Mountain Preserve.

Why am I not?

Well…I’m leery of taking the dog out there — rattlesnakes, y’know. She pokes her head under every creosotebush, and sooner or later she’s going to get hurt or killed doing that.

And given my age and increasing decrepitude, I’m less than perfectly comfortable hiking around out there alone. One fall, and I’m screwed, even if not dead.

One guy — much younger and much more outdoorsy than me — slipped on a steep stretch on the north side of the mountain (where I used to hike all the time). He hurt his foot or ankle so that he couldn’t walk. His phone would not work because of the granite all around him. He hollered for help, and no one heard him. He ended up spending the whole night up there(!!!). The following morning, he realized people in the houses at the western base of the mountain might be coming out to go to work, so he started hollering again. Yelling. And yelling…and yelling…and yelling…. finally some fellow came out to get his newspaper, heard the guy’s cries out in the distance, and called the cops. They had to get a team to haul him down off the mountain.

So as you can imagine, my enthusiasm for prancing around up there is less than vivid these days.

There’s a (very!!!) upscale neighborhood over north of the Biltmore, where elegant mansions populate rolling hills that look out over the smog…uhm, city. This is an excellent place for mild walking exercise over paved roads…

Why do I not drive over there every day and hike around those elegant hills?

The main reason is that there’s no place to park. Well, there is and there isn’t. You’d have to leave your car on the street in front of someone’s house, and then…find your way back to it. Easier said than done: all those streets are winding little lanes, and it’s easy to get lost up there. You have a real good shot at losing your car. And…gooooood luck getting someone to help you. How do you call the cops and tell them to come help you if you don’t know where you are?

Second reason, of course, is that it is RitzyTitzyville, which means that you have almost no chance of getting help: no stores to go into, no houses where anyone would answer the door, no nothin’. Likely you wouldn’t even be able to get them to call the cops, which would be your best way of getting found once you got lost.

And finally, it being RitzyTitzyville, if you park your car on the street in front of someone’s house, the rich person or her servants will likely think you’re some kind of criminal, call the cops, and have your car towed.

So today will be utterly absorbed with traipsing to the freaking Mayo Clinic.

Meanwhile, the (expensive!!!!!) doorknob on the front door broke. The locksmith is supposed to show up tomorrow morning to fix it. Between now and then, dodging traipses to doctors’ offices, I’ve got to traipse to Home Depot and try to find a matching Kwikset doorknob.

Good luck with that. I’ve been here how long…eight or ten years? How much chance do you suppose there IS that I’ll be able to find hardware to match?


Well, I’ll have to stop by the Depot on the way home from the Mayo, and since these accursed tests are supposed to last a good four hours, it’ll be 5:00 p.m. by the time I get there…in the middle of the hideous rush-hour traffic.

Oh, good! Not one but TWO of the neighbors’ yard dudes just showed up at the same time. And they’re BOTH out there roaring away with their blowers and other racket-makers.

Gotta get going… And so, away!

Times Have Been a-Changin’…

Couple days ago, I had occasion to drive through the neighborhood around the old-folkerie where my father chose to live out the last years of his life.  It’s over on the easterly side of North Central Phoenix — actually, within (almost reasonable) walking distance of the big North Central house where DXH and I took up residence, just to show the world what we could afford.

Killing time drivin’ around the other morning was kinda fun, kinda sentimental. After running away from the church, being told we had no choir today (why??????), I filled the gas tank and then cruised up into some of the (relatively) old neighborhoods over in the area of my favorite QT station. Part of this area comprises the easterly section of a renowned slum known as Sunnyslope.

My! We’ve been told that the ‘Slope has gentrified…. They ain’t kiddin’!!

WHAT a difference. Houses and whole streets that used to be run-down dumps have been cleaned up and painted up and spiffed up…gosh! Some of those little houses — built as homes for working-class folk, downright tiny — are suddenly VERY cute.

A decade ago, you couldn’t have gotten me even to drive around in there — because it wasn’t safe. Now, if I were in the market for a centrally located house with “charm,” that would be one of the areas where I would look.

Meanwhile, in the center of this middle-classifying neighborhood, the old-folkerie where my father retreated after my mother died has been HUGELY revamped. “Gentrified” ain’t the word for it.

When my father was there, it was a sprawl of single-story garden apartments arranged around a dining/activity center/nursing home. Renamed — no longer “Orangewood” but the ever-so-snootier-sounding “Terraces” — it’s three stories, painted in the latest, most stylish eye-searing white and beige. It’s spread out vastly — probably three times the footprint of the old place. And it looks bloody expensive.

Apparently it is: I hear tell it costs even more than the Beatitudes, whose business model is based on bankrupting the inmates.

It used to be that the neighborhood where this fine institution resided was…well…shall we say trending toward shabby (not to emit the word “slummy).”  Now it’s all been cleaned up, spiffed up, painted up, even in some areas rebuilt! Who’d’ve ever thunk! I would call it an upper-middle-class neighborhood now.


In other precincts for the agèd, my dear friend L. (of the J. & L. duo) passed on a few days ago. He and his wife J. had, you may recall, moved into a similar institute called the Beatitudes, over L.’s vehement objections. But L. was very elderly — 94 years old — and his health was failing fast. He’d fallen a couple of times, and J. found she couldn’t help him get back on his feet by herself…so was justifiably frightened of what might happen if she couldn’t find someone quickly to get him back upright. Additionally, they had a demented neighbor who took to making trouble for them. One of this character’s more recent antics was making like she was going to run him down in her car.

So even though L. did not want to go, it was clear that getting away from their pretty little patio home was the wisest move, and, given that, the nursing care offered by the Beatitudes was a godsend for J., if not for L.

On the other hand…speaking of getting away…

J. was right, and within a year or so, L. passed on. A-n-n-d…within a week of the burial service, her daughters packed up what remained of her worldly goods and drove them and her off to California, where they live near Sacramento.


So much for the glories of the old-folkerie. As soon as the most pressing need was past, she was outa there.

That has to have been a very pricey maneuver. Shortly after they moved into the place, she told me it cost her everything she netted from the sale of their handsome North Central Avenue patio home to get them in there. Basically, she forked over a huge chunk of her net worth to obtain end-of-life care for L.

Think you could do better at the Terraces? After a bracing buy-in, you’ll pay a staggering monthly fee. For that you get a far better designed and roomier apartment than the cramped space J. & L. landed in. But…good luck to you if you run out of money before you run out of life.

Heaven help us.

Why should we have to impoverish ourselves, our spouses, and our children to pass from this world in peace?

Never a Freakin’ Dull Moment…

DepositPhoto; Rainy Weather © dnaumoidSo….how is it possible for the day to be soooo busy before 7:30 in the morning? 

Incredibly, the Dog’s human managed to sleep all the way through till nigh unto 5 a.m. which of late represents some kind of record.

It’s been raining all night; thunderstorms and more rain predicted. Still…at 5:00 it’s relatively cool, which is an unfamiliar mercy. “Relatively,” though, is a relative term… 😀

Human slams around getting dressed. Dog barks: someone’s in back. Grab a steak knife, peer out the back door, and…by damn! There’s New Pool Dude out there,

Holy mackerel.

Well, you can’t blame him for wanting to get through the day’s pool jobs before the sun comes up, that’s for sure!

Bridle up the Dog: out the door. 

Even though it’s relatively(!)(?) cool, the air is SOOO muggy and warm it’s a swamp out there.

The cops are buzzing Gangbanger Central to the north of us…never a good sign. Is it safe to forge ahead? Hm. Consider the options:

  • Delaying the doggy-walk means canceling the doggy-walk, because it will soon be too hot to stroll around outdoors.
  • Proceeding with the doggy-walk means taking one’s chances with the Drama of the Day.
  • Heading south from the Shack means skirting the park, which at this hour will be overrun by idiots with their dogs off the leash, risking a dog fight.
  • On the other hand, any bums who chose to sleep out in the rain last night will be getting out of bed (as it were) and stumbling around. If this has meaning, I dunno what it is. Other than that I need a German shepherd, not a 23-pound corgi.

Oh WTF: into Upper Richistan it is!

The cop copter is north of Gangbanger’s Way, which suggests the scene of the drama is either north of the canal (meaning they’re after perps) or right along the canal (meaning they may be trying to locate a candidate for drowning or they may be chasing a perp who’s lurking in or near the canal). In that case, it’s relatively safe on the surface streets here in the ’Hood. Maybe.

Dogwalk is mercifully uneventful. Most of the Five Ayem Horde are absent, presumably staying in because of the wet weather. Good. We cover a couple miles and return to the Funny Farm without getting rained upon, kidnapped by a fleeing desperado, or questioned by suspicious cops.

WonderAccountant, who kindly hired on to do the bookkeeping that I’m getting too senile to manage accurately, is supposed to come over today to tackle this month’s chore. Despite sleeping most of the night, I’m bushed (at 8:30 in the morning) and wish to go back to bed.

Ah: on the calendar: W.A. “early afternoon”…thank the heavens!

Yesterday it was off to a new Dental Type, blowing away the afternoon. Orthodontist…alas, not a candidate for New Dentist. She says the titanium stake in the upper jaw is NOT infected. Therefore the eye thing does not signal a more serious issue. Probably the injury that instigated the eye cyst was the slicing up of the nose to remove the suspected melanoma.

That’s something, anyway.

She recommended an actual dentist, not too far away. I may call that one and make an appointment to get acquainted. However, I’ve already established an acquaintance with the WonderAccountants’ dentist, who as far as I can tell is excellent.

The Baltimore dude who came out West and bought our beloved long-time dentist’s practice does not make the cut. Not by a long shot. Interestingly, when you look him up online locally, it appears that he’s opening a bunch of offices on the west side, apparently with the intention of recruiting low-income patients on welfare.

Is there a REASON why there’s never a dull moment around this place???????

Dental Insurance in Retirement…or No?

Since retiring from my job at Arizona State University, I’ve gone bare when it comes to dental insurance. It’s a risk, obviously: betting on the “not come” rather than the “come.” My teeth have always been excellent. My mother died in her 60s; her mother died in her 40s, and her grandmother also died fairly young: hence, one could lay a bet that I will outlive my teeth.

I retired at about the same time a dear friend did. She and her husband chose not to enroll in the state’s plan for dental insurance. Why? Well….

The Arizona state dental plan doesn’t cover everything. For $8.52 a month, Cigna tells you you’re insured but actually covers very little; at $35 a month, the “premium” plan it actually covers things. Their fee schedule is so complicated that She Who Is Not an Accountant can’t even begin to figure it out, but it would appear the coverage doesn’t apply to everything. But following my friends’ logic, I chose not to sign up for Arizona’s retiree dental plan because my friends — one of whom was the head of the Arizona Department of Gaming, fairly large in the Bigwig Club — calculated that over a predictable lifetime, most of us would end up paying the same or more in insurance premiums than we would pay out of pocket for typical old-folks’ dental and orthodontic care (including extractions and all the other fun and games that come with decreptitude).

I’ve been retired since December 2009. So let’s start at January 2010… This is August 2022: about 12.6  years, hm?

At $8.52 a month, one year on Cigna’s low-rent plan would cost you $102.24. By now, I would have paid out around $1,288 for retiree dental insurance, on the cheap. But of course, you KNOW that if you really need dental insurance, that amount of coverage will be a drop in the bucket; so if you’re gonna buy the coverage, you’d better buy the top of the line. And that, by now, would have cost me $5,292.

AND not all dentists will accept the state’s insurance plan. Nor do those figures take into account services that would not be covered under the state’s plans. Also it’s worth noting that some of the stuff I’ve needed has been covered, to a degree, by Medicare and Medigap.

At this point, I’ve probably spent somewhere around a thousand bucks on the Adventures in Dental Science. So compared to the price of retiree insurance, probably the cost is six of one, half-a-dozen of the other. But I haven’t had to bicker with any providers. AND…it must be remembered that many providers will not accept the low-rent coverage one gets from the State of Arizona. So for the amount I’ve paid, I’ve retained my choice of providers. And that, it develops, is big.

Very big.

Also very big is the fact that not everything appears to be covered on the State’s plan, meaning that a fair amount of one’s Adventures in Dental Science are likely to be paid for out of pocket. How much might that be? Difficult to calculate. But even a small figure would cut in to the value of the premium-supported insurance scheme.


By now, I’d guess that over the past couple of years I’ve spent about the same as or a little more than I would have shelled out to Cigna for dental, what with the present Adventures in Medical Science. However, that may change as things get worse.

Or as they get better…

Our extended amalgamated family’s beloved dentist, Dr. D. was forced to retire for medical reasons. He sold his practice to a guy who moved here from Baltimore.

This fella has taken over and, as of course he should, is now doing things his way. Not Dr. D’s way. He’s canned all of Dr. D’s excellent dental assistants and office staff (or maybe they all fled?). And I see he’s building an empire of low-rent offices over on the West Side: exploiting the impoverished set.

I’ve now seen the guy several times. And truth to tell, I don’t like him. Nor do I trust him.

Evidently for good reason, come to find out.

He told me the stake another practitioner — an orthodontist specializing in rather eccentric restorative work — had installed in my upper jaw was infected. He would like to take that thing out and…what? Rebuild it? Put in a fake tooth? A bridge?? Argha!

Not to say…innaresting.

So…couple weeks ago I got a referral from another medical doctor to an orthodontist, who herself specializes in these sorts of shenanigans. Today, I finally got in to see her — coincidentally, on the first day the damn tooth hasn’t either hurt like hell or ached vaguely.

She shot a set of X-rays. Inspected them. Let her assistant inspect them, apparently by way of pedagogy but in fact putting another set of eyes on the scene.

Then she showed the X-rays to me and said, “Look. There’s no infection around this thing at all.”

“Why,” quoth I, “does it hurt?”

“Because,” quoth she, “the implant is too long. It’s grinding against your lower teeth. Especially when (as indeed is my habit) you clench your teeth.”

She picks up a handy-dandy little whizzer and, zzziiip! Drills off the upper surface of the crown.


By damn! Now my jaws fit together straight! The teeth do not whack each other when I close my mouth. And the implant does NOT hurt.

So…uhm…howcum the Philadelphia Wonder didn’t notice that?


She fixed the damn thing in under ten minutes! Probably under five, actually: all she had to do was polish the excess porcelain off so that the fake tooth FIT, same as all all the other teeth in that part of the upper jaw.

The bill was a couple hundred bucks. A far cry from what I would have spent on Cigna’s dental insurance over the past twelve and a half years.

Unfortunately, she’s a specialist and so doesn’t do routine dental maintenance. But she gave me the name of a colleague, whom I intend to track down next week.




Drivin’ Drivin’ Drivin’….

And here we are with the rest of the cattle herd, parked in the Mayo’s waiting room.

Getting out here from central Phoenix induces a migraine headache — the Mayo Clinic is situated in affluent Scottsdale, where they presumably figure they’ll be closer to the kind of patients who a) know what the Mayo is; b) have the kind of jobs that provide the sort of health insurance that will cover the Mayo; and c) are bright enough to run to the doctor whenever a need arises…or appears to arise. The location is one BITCH of a long drive from North Central. I left at 20 after 8, and it’s now 9:17 a.m.: yes, almost a full hour of navigating rush-hour traffic with my fellow homicidal drivers.

But…given the quality of US medical care in general and Arizona care in specific, it’s worth the drive. HOOO-lee mackerel.

My late mother-in-sin — SDXB’s mom — was at John C. Lincoln — the Institution that serves this part of town — after she’d had some sort of cardiac episode. While she was laying in the hospital room, she DID have a heart attack, and…NO…ONE…NOTICED.

Actually, that’s wrong.

A cleaning lady  noticed. She came into the room to pick up the trash, and instead picked up the phone — to call the nurses’ station. Mom survived…but only by the grace of God.

So that’s why I avoid John C. Lincoln.

Doing so means the nearest hospital is a fair hike from here. EMTs will take you to some of them, but not all of them. Especially not to the Mayo…the only one where you can feel solidly sure of getting competent care.

If I had any sense, I’d sell the Funny Farm and move closer to the Mayo Hospital, thereby insuring that the local ambulance services  will take me there. But I don’t have any sense; nor do I have enough $$$ to afford to buy a comparable house (or much of any house) in Scottsdale or Paradise Valley. Ohhhh well. We all have to go sometime…maybe sooner is better than later…


So I get in to see MayoDoc. She hasn’t a clue, being a GP, and she reports that their eye specialists are not seeing any but the most urgent cases, because of the plague. She suggests I visit thus-and-such an ophthalmologist, who…heh!!…happens to be in practice with my guy!

When we say “waste of time,” we MEAN waste of time.

😀 😀  😀  😀  😀  😀  😀  😀

Speaking of the which… I was supposed to be down at the church for today’s volunteer gig along about noon. Having come unstuck in time, I had no clue that Today’s The Day, until my opposite number for the morning hours called to say “where ARE you?”

Well, where I was was in the backyard throwing food on the BBQ whilst dealing with the Leslie’s pool repairman. Ohhhhhhhh gawd!

So, so, sooo tired beyond description. Now I have to hang here until the Swimming Pool Service & Repair guy finishes wrestling with the pool, write down what he wants me to do (because you may be dead SURE i won’t remember!!), then race down to the church and sit through the last several hours of phone duty and then take a vial of water up to Leslie’s and then call Pool Dude and tell them what they say and…and…but…but…if I have this pool dude’s phone number (and name) I sure as hell don’t know where they are.

Meanwhile the Toyota people want me to bring the car down to the dealership to get some recalled nightmare part replaced, which obviously I now won’t be able to do tomorrow because I’ll be running from pillar to post with the swimming pool fiasco.


So here we are down at the Cult HQ. I got here two hours late. Now there’s only an hour left to go. My morning counterpart, Barbara, has hung around and spent the last hour chatting, which was nice.

The pool is crystal clear, thanks to the SPS&R guy. How long this will last remains to be seen. But at last the filter has been cleaned, so there’s a good chance the present repair will have some longevity.


Long, LONG elaborate email from the power company, Salt River Project, going on about a plague of scams visiting their customers.


Don’t know when I’ve ever been so tired. Up since 4 a.m., for unknown reasons. Then of course the fun junket across the crazy-making city.

Then couldn’t even sit down for lunch before the Pool Guy showed up.

It’s 103 degrees out there, with 21% humidity. Lovely, lovely day…

Thirty-five minutes to go…

Fiasco Update: The Pool, the Pal, and all That

Our Pool Dude To the Rescue, a guy named Stan from the venerable (and pricey) Swimming Pool Service & Repair, arrived a few days ago and ministered to the backyard swamp. Dumped in a sh!tload of stuff that turned the water milk-white, said “run it 24 hours nonstop” and assured me that the water would clear up.

And lo! The guy was right.

The following morning the drink was crystal clear. The pump is pounding away at 35 psi — wayyyy high for that unit, which normally runs at about 18-25 psi when everything is clean.

Which everything decidedly is not.

Stan resurfaced the next day to decombobulate the filter and the pump and clean everything out.  And what a mess he found in there, after months of Ex-Pool Dude refusing to do the job.

Meanwhile, Ex-Pool Dude having stolen my Hayward Pool Cleaner, I needed to decide whether to order a new one from Amazon, or, for a hundred bucks more, to Shop Local and buy the same damn thing from the Sunnyslope Leslie’s, an outfit that mostly caters to the trade.

That store was agglomerated by the Leslie’s corporation fairly recently — for many years it had been a locally owned store, much beloved by people who work in the pool business. The former owners are still working there, but it remains to be seen how long they’ll stay.

My impression about those guys in Sunnyslope is that they probably are not crooks. I feel less wary of them than the crew at the Leslie’s in the Safeway shopping center a mile or two down the road, so if I was going to buy the thing retail and locally, that’s where I’d go.

My sense is that they’ll take it back if a problem arises…a trick that, as you know, is QUITE a trick when you buy from Amazon. That “insurance,” as it were, may be worth the extra hundred bucks.

Absolutely. So it was off to the Leslie’s-That-Is-Not-Altogether-a-Leslie’s to drop four hundred bucks on a new piece of equipment.


The whole idea of hiring someone to maintain that pool — now, to get him broken in, not later — has to do with the scheme to try to stay in my house till I croak over. Slamming around in the humid heat this morning was just this side of more than I can manage, here at the entryway to my dotage. If I”m going to stay in this house indefinitely, I’ll have to corner some hired help to do tasks I’ve been able to do in more energetic and less absent-minded years:

  • house-cleaning help
  • yard workers
  • pool maintenance guy
  • AC maintenance guy
  • handyman
  • plumber
  • electrician
  • reliable, not-a-crook roofer

At least.

Actually, just now I have access to all those except the pool maintenance guy and probably the yard workers. Gerardo clearly has lost interest in doing private yards — he told me all those years ago, when he started, that his goal for the business was to do commercial landscaping. And given that guy’s smarts and energy, I figure he’s now about achieved that goal, and so would like to get rid of me and M’hijto.

Once all the present flaps settle down, the next order of business will be to figure out how — if it’s possible at all — to avoid being scammed and taken advantage by the armies of service and product providers you need to deal with. I’d been told that elderly people are easily flamboozled and targets for scams of all varieties. But this is the first time I’ve come fully face-to-face with that fact. Everybody and their little brother has tried to take advantage of me during the present fiasco. I’ve found a few guys who were honest and straightforward — most of them workmen who live here in the neighborhood (i.e., they know I know where they live…).

Pool Dude is the most egregious case in point. He stole a $400 pool cleaner — probably to sell or give it to one of his other customers — and when I demanded that he give it back, he foisted a worn-out piece of junk on me. Did he seriously believe I couldn’t tell the difference????

Clearly, this is not something that’s going to get better. In fact, I’m wondering if it’s possible to hire some kind of agent or go-between to run interference with various suppliers and service providers.

Y’know…given the size and the up-and-coming senility of the Baby Boom generation, I imagine a person could make a decent living with exactly that kind of service. I wonder what such a service would be called? And how you could insure it or how government entities could regulate it…hmmmm….


Meanwhile, my friend J, of the J&L couple who moved to the Beatitudes old-folkerie, needed a ride to the doctor’s office. She, at the age of about 90, came down with covid-19!

Amazingly, she threw it off. She must be strong as a horse! And, so far, her husband has not caught it. Presumably, the vaccine is hold the disease at bay.

These warehouses for old folks have real problems keeping the disease under control The Beatitudes has done so, to a degree, by confining ALL the inmates to their apartments. No one is allowed to leave the campus, and for awhile no one was allowed to leave their tiny apartments! Food was hand-delivered to people’s rooms by the employees: room service, at it were. So on the one hand it wasn’t surprising that J caught the disease; on the other, it’s astonishing that L has avvoided it so far.

Also surprising, to my mind, is that they go to a doctor in Sunnyslope — probably because their former abode was right down the street from John C. Lincoln, one of the three major hospitals in the city of Phoenix. What makes this surprising is that the practice caters to Latinos — Sunnyslope is largely Mexican. And J&L do subscribe to 19th-century ideas about race, gender, and ethnicity. That notwithstanding, she made a brilliant choice in electing to go to this doctor.

Amazingly, the man proposed to CALL HER DAUGHTER IN CALIFORNIA (!!!!!!!) and discuss Joan’s health with her!

Joan wanted me to sit in on their discussion to take notes – and her daughter was complicit with this scheme – but as you can imagine, the Doc was not so happy about it. He, being brighter than the average snail, saw that speaking to Daughter himself would get whatever he needed to share across without any static, and allow her to ask whatever questions she had directly to him.

Thank goodness!

The Beatitudes…SHUDDER!!!! 

Gawdlmighty, I’d rather be dead than trapped in that prison for old folks. For the price of their pretty North Central patio home – two large bedrooms, a spacious kitchen – bigger than mine! – a handy laundry area, a big two-car garage, a big dining room and living room with a free-standing fireplace, and a nice little backyard with a patio and a nice barbecue and pretty landscaping for their cat to jump around in – they get three rooms, one of which is the size of my hall closet. No garage: but their choice of any slot under a tinfoil roof that they manage to grab (and good luck with that). No yard. No barbecue. No real washer/dryer – just a couple of teeny stacked mechanical boxes jammed in a closet. A kitchen that’s not as big as the one in the studio apartment I rented my first year out of college. A phone system that doesn’t work.

No kidding: it took us THREE TRIES to get the damn phone to dial out so we could confirm the time of this afternoon’s appointment!

And – no kidding – she told me it took ALL OF THE PROCEEDS from the sale of their house to buy them into that awful prison for old folks.

If you’re going to blow all your net worth to keep yourself going through your dotage, wouldn’t it be better to borrow against equity in your spectacularly paid-off home (you don’t even wanna KNOW what houses in North Central are worth now!!!!) to hire people to come in every day to take care of you, fix your food, clean your house, and drive you around?  Let’s say you’re 88 years old (about Lee & Joan’s age – actually, Lee is over 90). How much longer are you likely to live?

Five years? Ten years? Fifteen at the very outside?

So a practical nurse costs, say, 30 grand a year. Your food and clothing: maybe 5 grand, assuming you cook most if it yourself? Make it 10 grand, so you can go out to eat.  But throw in an extra 5 grand anyway, just to cover…stuff.

Hmmm… 30 grand + 5 + 10: $45,000 a year in regular expenses.

You live another 10 years: you need $450,000 to keep you going.

Your net worth at the outset was, shall we say, in the vicinity of a million bucks. No: make that cash holdings. Your house, at the outset, would have been worth around $300,000. Thus you have access to around $1,300,000, or  available cash (over 10 years of supposed remaining life) of $130,000/year.

Looks like you’re not gonna starve anytime soon. But what about hiring in geriatric-serving hired help?

If one nurse costs 45 grand a year, you have over twice as much as you need to hire such a person.

Can that possibly be right? English-major math…but still…. The point is, because your investments are steadily regenerating, as long as a serious recession holds off, you’re ultimately subtracting less from your total annual cost of living from the bottom line of your retirement investments.

See wot I mean? It looks suspiciously to me as tho’ if they had stayed in their house, they could have afforded to hire daily nursing care and still come out ahead of what it costs them to live in the Old Folks Prison.

Of course, the story was not that simple. (Is any story?) They had a demented neighbor who had become a very serious problem. She was always at odds with the HOA, and she kept trying to run Lee down in her car.

But then after all the story also was not that complicated. They could have sold that house and moved into another, comparable patio home (North Central is practically blanketed with the things!), thereby escaping the nutso neighbor but retaining the lifestyle that Lee so fully enjoyed.  And they would have had plenty of money (he was a nuclear engineer, forgodsake!) to bring in all the hired help they need.


Stan, the new pool dude whose name I got from the neighbors, just showed up, swept, adjusted, reset equipment and breezed out. Much to be hoped is it that this guy will be competent and not a crook. Looks promising so far.

The pool has gone from Similac white to crystal clear, and I’m sincerely hoping that the thing can be maintained at its previous level of excellence. I forgot to ask him if it’s OK to swim in the thing yet. But since I’m now not allowed to get in the sun, lest more skin cancers erupt, that’s moot. By this evening, without a doubt, it will be just fine. So I can do my Dracula thing then.