Coffee heat rising

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.




All Around the Swimming-Pool Hole…

Round and round we go!

Holy God, what a week!

As I seem to have failed to mention here, a while back I hired a guy to ride herd on the swimming pool, which was turning green and also turning into one helluva lot more work than I care to do, here in Old Age Hell. The Pool Dude thing has gone along sorta kinda OK. He managed to un-green it at the time I hired him, and my workload dropped to almost nil.

But…well… Let’s just say that “nothing lasts forever.”  To make a very long and complicated story relatively short, Pool Dude made off with my Hayward pool cleaner. This is a device that you attach to the end of a 40-foot hose, which you insert into the inlet that passes water from the pool into the pump and filter, where debris is collected and clean water is then pumped circulated into the pool.

He resurfaced with another cleaner — also a Hayward, but noticeably older, tireder, and worn out. This thing was barely functional.

I asked him to bring mine back. No action was forthcoming. Meanwhile, a fine algae bloom festooned the pool walls, and the water began to turn green. The closest to anything like an explanation I got from the guy was a sorta sidewise excuse that he liked to have a couple of these devices in his workshop from which to cannibalize parts to repair his customers’ units.

Yeah. So we know what happened to Harvey, right?

After repeated demands that he bring Harvey back, he showed up with a Hayward cleaner…but it was not mine! It was old, tired, and faded. Apparently he imagined I would believe his story that he’d refurbished and renovated the thing and would be ohhh so happy to get it back.

This aged device barely worked. The filter needed (still needs) to be decombobulated and cleaned out — a big job that should have been done weeks ago.

After some thrashing around, I find the name of a pool guy on the neighborhood Facebook page. By this time Pool Dude has made off with a $445 piece of equipment and apparently has no intention of returning it. I consider reporting the bastard to the cops — which I’ll have to do if I want to make a claim on my homeowner’s insurance. But realize this will create a huge hassle…and since he never gave me a receipt and nobody was here to witness the transaction, I can’t even begin to prove it. Which, presumably,  is why the guy figures he can get away with such shenanigans.

Now I arrange for Swimming Pool Service and Repair — a venerable outfit that does major repairs and renovations, not routine cleaning — to come over and shovel out the pump and filter — a job our boy should have done when he started last fall and that, when I finally asked him point-blank to do the job, he flat refused to do. They agreed to come out Monday to get that done.

Meanwhile, the new guy comes over and dumps a ton of chemicals into the drink. This causes the water to turn milk-white. He says to run the pump for 24 hours and (as if anyone needed to be told…) to stay out of the water.

The pressure shoots up to 35 psi — normal for this pool is around 18 to 22 psi — and the system grinds away for hour after hour after hour, all day, all night and now the better part of another today.

I watch in anticipatory horror, hoping a monsoon storm doesn’t come whaling in and dump dirt and debris into the drink.

Swimming Pool Service and Repair — an outfit that does major repairs and renovations, not routine cleaning — is coming next week to clean the pump and filter — something Our Hero should have done when he started last fall and that, when finally I asked him point-blank to do the job, he flat refused to do. So I hope the system will make it through till Monday — if a major storm comes in, I may have to just shut everything down and let it turn green…again.


Now I email Pool Dude telling him firmly to return my pool cleaner, now not later. Don’t think I’ll ever see it or him again. And since I can’t prove he took it — no receipt, no witnesses — I can’t even report him to the police. Or to anyone. Don’t even faintly expect to hear back from him:  figure either he gave Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner to one of his better-paying customers or he deconstructed it to use the parts to repair customers’ units. 

Neighbors on FB recommended a couple other pool dudes.  Eventually I snare one who seems to have a brain. He wants me to run over to Leslie’s and buy 25 pounds of granulated chlorine.


Eventually, Pool Dude shows up at the house. I inform him that he’s canned. He’s not altogether surprised, but he’s plainly dismayed…because, he confesses, three other of his clients have fired him! 

Yeah. Well. Incompetence will out. Eventually.


This morning I went over to my newly favorite Leslie’s, a hole-in-the-wall up in Sunnyslope that used to be called B&L until the Leslie’s corporation moved in and made the owners an offer they couldn’t refuse. The original owners still seem to be working there, for the nonce. Thank goodness, because they’re honest, down-to-earth, and not in the habit of hustling you to buy stuff you don’t need. So, by the time the sales tax soaking was applied, I dropped over $500 to replace the device Pool Dude stole.

What a mess the whole Pool Dude thing has turned into. It’s too bad…he’s a charming, sweet guy. But maybe that’s how crooks make their way in this world.

Skeeters and Coils and Termites and Stuff…

So Termite Dude showed up a couple days ago. Nice guy: I liked him instantly. He sprayed the new settlement our little ladies had installed in the attic’s wood facing, explored…examined…examined…explored, sprayed everything in sight, collected a wad of dough, and went on his way.

Gerardo had already  inspected the attic. Termite Dude went up there, too, and looked all around. He confirmed Gerardo’s report that as yet our little pets have not made their way up there.

Termites are a chronic problem in Arizona. That notwithstanding, I don’t have the house sprayed every six months, for two reasons:

The stuff we used to have sprayed in our house downtown (which was built atop a delicious wooden crawl space) used to make my stomach upset every time the guy came around. Did the same to the cats, too: they would barf all day until the fumes aired out.

One of my friends...omigod! Her health was permanently ruined (no kidding!) and her dog was killed when fumes from termite gunk an exterminator sprayed into the foundation (most houses here are built atop concrete pads, which have to be drilled to apply the chemical) found its way into a crack, seeped up into the home office where she was working while her dog snoozed on the floor, and poisoned both of them.

So, no. I don’t want that stuff around my house!!!!!

But with the gals having staked out a claim, I felt that if I had to take the dog and rent a motel room for a week while the place airs out, it would probably be worth it.

The new termite gunk, however, has no odor! At least, none that’s discernible to a human.

That alone was amazing. Then came the next surprise: it didn’t make me queasy! I did take Ruby down to M’hijito’s house and left her there all day. So, she wasn’t exposed directly to it. To what extent any odorless fumes may linger, I do not know. But it’s now been a day and a half, and she seems to be fine. No barfing, no listlessness, no other visible sign of harm. Yet.

This morning I realized that I forgot to point out the decayed remains of an old tree trunk out in front…which very likely is where Her Majesty and her minions originated. Dunno whether he sprayed that or not. But I happen to have half a gallon-sized container of bug granules, which probably will do the job on any ladies lurking around that grocery store. Whenever I get off my duff, I’ll go out there and sprinkle the stuff all over the pit.

Meanwhile, speaking of bugs, it’s mosquito season in lovely Arizona!

Can you imagine? We didn’t used to have mosquitoes. Literally: you never saw skeeters around human habitation in this place.  Matter of fact, that used to be one of the draws: Michiganders and Ohians and the like loved the mosquito-free yards as much as they loved the warm winters.

No more! Now every summer we’re overrun.

Dragged out the mosquito coils — there are only a couple left, so I guess I’ll have to order up some more from Amazon.

These damn things are, I’ll say, pretty creepy. First came upon them in Tahiti, where DXH and I stopped for a few days on the way to Australia & New Zealand, where he had always dreamt of junketing. Tahiti, being a jungle island in the middle of the Pacific, is overrun with savage biting mosquitoes. And yes, they do carry disease. The hotel provided mosquito coils for the guests, and yes, the things DO work to repel the little ladies.

Not nuts about using them in the house…but outdoors, they don’t seem to be too unsafe. During skeeter season here, I keep the screen doors and window screens closed, which works effectively to keep the gals out. But why would you live in Arizona if you didn’t want to sit on your garden porch for breakfast and dinner and cocktails, hm? These things make that possible in the springtime, the only pretty bug time…

Termite image: Alabama A & M University
Mosquito coil image: Amazon


{grump} All Hell Continues to Work Its Way Loose

As the dog and I hiked back to the house along about 6:15 a.m., there across the street we see our neighbor’s lawn crew, the bunch who stole EVERY SPRINKLER IN THE FRONT AND BACK YARDS.

{chortle!} Guess I haven’t mentioned that little fiasco.

Couple weeks ago, these guys showed up. And since Gerardo seems to have quit, I hired them to clean up the yard. Their fees, by comparison with Gerardo’s, were exorbitant: $180 for the first clean-up, then $80 every two weeks, forevermore.


Well, I knew Gerardo was undercutting the competition — or else giving me a special deal, more likely. But he seems to have quit: he’s not coming either to my house or my son’s. And I can’t take care of this yard myself. So..ooohkaaaayyyyy….

They did a pretty good job. So I thought…until I went to put a sprinkler on a parched plant.

Sprinkler? What sprinkler? We don’t need to steeenking sprinklers!

Uh huh. Every. Single. Sprinkler was gone. The little metal ones. The regular plastic ones. All of them.


So it was off to buy some new ones.

Lowe’s does not have little metal sprinklers.

Home Depot does not have little metal sprinklers.

The grand, old-money nursery on Glendale does not have little metal sprinklers.

Turns out there’s a sprinkler shortage!

That would be why our guys felt called upon to steal mine.

Finally found a few at an Ace Hardware (everybody buys sprinklers in hardware stores, right?). Grabbed three of them. And they’re now locked inside the garage.

If it’s not red-hot or nailed down…


In other quotidian gnus, the dentist wants EIGHTEEN HUNDRED DOLLARS to replace the broken crown. Jayzuz! What do they think it’s made of?

No, it ain’t made of gold.

The peripheral neuropathy continues to drive me nuts. However, in one tiny glimmer of light, I stumbled upon a study suggesting that antihistamines may help with the peripheral neuropathy.


Well, nothing ventured, nothing gained. I sure have plenty of those around the house. Arizona is where you come to find out that you’re allergic to everything…

The researchers were using Claritin, but also mentioned chlortrimeton. Apparently chlortimeton is now available over the counter — it used to be a prescription drug. Claritin is readily available, and in fact I happened to have a bottle of it in the house. Benadryl is also mentioned as effective. Though that stuff has some inconvenient side effects for me, I do have some of it in the house.

So I drop a Claritin. And by golly, it does seem to help some. The tingling/stinging is not gone, but it’s noticeably milder.

We’ll see if this works over a period of days or weeks.


Meanwhile, the other day La Maya and I decided to go out to lunch.

Our first choice, a beloved Italian restaurant near Moon Valley (in the middle-class northerly realms of Phoenix), was closed, to our horror. They were hard-hit by the plague — I’d heard the husband died (a man and a wife owned it). La M said that wasn’t so…presumably, then, the gossip mill got it wrong.

From there we drove from Yuppified joint to yuppified joint, until we got alllll the wayyyyyy down North Central to Camelback and decided to go into one of the restaurants in the AJ’s shopping center.

Personally, I’m just not all that fond of eating out. In the first place, I cook much, MUCH better than the short-order operators of most restaurants. So the food, when you come right down to it, isn’t very good. And what you get is spectacularly overpriced. And the noise is annoying. And the cigarette smoke (often) is annoying. And…blech!

At any rate, we shared a kale salad, which she enjoyed.

Driving back up lovely North Central…HOLEEE shee-ut! We saw the single closest call I’ve ever witnessed, and were almost dragged into the middle of it.

Central Avenue in that area is a 40-mph zone. This means the locals drive 45 to 55 mph along that lovely main drag, which bisects an upscale neighborhood to the north of the central commercial districts.

We’re cruising along calmly enough in a pod of 45-mph traffic when, incredibly, a Moron steps out into the crosswalk in front of the oncoming traffic (among which we are numbered).

Yes, you are required to stop for nudniks in crosswalks. But it is assumed that the nudniks will wait until the barreling-along cars have passed before stumbling across the road.

He walks right out in front of La Maya, who slams on her brakes. She misses him, so he proceeds to stroll in front of the car next to her!

He escaped intact — literally by inches. And he seemed unruffled…as though he does this all the time.

And yeah. Yep., He probably does.

Both of us expected to see him go flying through the air. Thank heaven no such acrobatics ensued.

Phoenix: what a place!


Out of the blue, the credit union apparently stopped making some — possibly all? — of the autopays I’d set up to my various creditors. Suddenly I got a notice from the gas company threatening to cut off service. A little checking revealed that other utility bills also had not been paid.


So now I’ve got to traipse to the credit union and do battle over that — around the Adventures in Dental Science.

WonderAccountant is coming over this afternoon to try to help untangle whatEVER that mess is. One thing is for sure: as senile as I may be, I know I did not ask the CU to discontinue the autopays. That would be insane!

But it IS a mess, and I am not a happy camperette.

Speaking of the which…I’d better get up, eat some breakfast, and start shoveling through that stack of paper…

Whatever can go wrong…

STOP THE WORLD! I wanna get off, and get back on in about 1947.

Holy mackerel! Whatever CAN go wrong WILL go wrong. Whoever made up that hoary saying must have been living my life in a previous incarnation.

Greeted the sun this morning by finding a hard thing in my mouth. Whaaaaa???

It’s part of a tooth. A back molar simply fell apart.

So now in half an hour, when the dentist’s office opens, I’ll have to call and make an appointment to get THAT fixed, no doubt to the tune of a great deal MORE hassle, expense, and painandsuffering.

Meanwhile, I’m supposed to spend the afternoon at the church office, staffing the front desk. How I’m gonna do that and sit in a dentist’s chair at the same time escapes me. But we’ll deal with that when the need arises. I guess.

At 9 a.m. — less than half an hour — I need to surface at Leslie’s Pool Supply, therein to get them to test the water and sell me the chemicals needed to rebalance the chemicals.

Pool Dude was here yesterday — while I was traipsing from pillar to post around the Valley — Dermatologist in Avondale, then hours at the downtown credit union, then up the moribund Target on 19th Avenue, therein to buy some area rugs so that my son’s dog can walk around on the tiles without falling over (he’s old and weak and his feet slide out from under him when he tries to walk on tiles — and my whole house is tiled).

The Target folks insist they’re just remodeling, even though it’s hilariously obvious that they’re selling off merchandise with intent to close down the store. If they admitted that the location is going out of business, of course, they’d have to clear out the junk with a sale. As it was, I realized that Charley does not need fancy rugs; all he needs is the rubbery stuff you lay down underneath them, which give him plenty of traction to move around. Poor old pooch.

Dermatologist removed more suspicious growths. Reported that none of the last crop had turned to cancer. Yet. I remarked on my one-time best friend’s brother-in-law, a healthy and athletic man who, I recently learned, died of skin cancer — malignant melanoma.

More than one of which I’ve enjoyed meself.

At the credit union, I explained to the extremely nifty dude that I can’t get into my account. We dorked around and dorked around, changing my password. As it develops, these days to change a bank password you have to have a cell phone!

Fortunately, I’d brought the useless iPhone my son gave me — useless because with the plague, the senior center nearby shut down its iPhone class, because Apple’s “class” was a sadistic joke (more so for the alleged instructor than for the customers), because I do not know how to get into it, because…on and on. We were able to fire it up and use it to reset the bank’s password. Now all we have to do is get me into my account there.

With one headache and crisis after another since then, though, I haven’t had time to attempt that trick.

This morning will be consumed with dealing with the swimming pool. When I left for the dermatologist trek — before Pool Dude surfaced — the walls were festooned with fresh algae. I left a check in an envelope for him and flew out the door.

When I got home, I found the empty envelope on the pavement near the pool and the pool’s walls festooned with fresh algae.

Tested water…chemical balance seemed OK — good enough for gummint work, anyway. But decided I should take a bottle of it up to Leslie’s for a full array of tests, and while there try to snab some granulated chlorine.

The chlorine shortage continues — kicked off by a fire that leveled the factory of the major US producer, a year or so ago, and dragged out by political correctness (chlorine being bad for you, after all). So I’m going to have to pay through the wazoo to re-fill my pool supply kit…I’m down to something like two three-inch tabs. Eventually I’ll probably have to re-plumb and install one of those salt-water systems, which will cost an arm and a leg. As I recall, it didn’t do that great a job on La Maya and La Bethulia’s pool. But…I guess if we can’t buy chlorine anymore, we’ll have to take what we can get.

Come four o’clock this morning, good old Cox’s phones were down. Come five o’clock: same. Come six o’clock: same. It finally came back online. Fortunately, I’ve learned to use the iPhone just enough to get into my email and to also onto the Web to check what time Leslie’s opens.

Speaking of the which, it’s ten till. Sooo…off and running!

Real Estate, Landlords, and the ‘Hood: Update

Good grief! It’s been awhile since I’ve been here at FaM! In the interim, the real estate search project has continued. Tony the Romanian Landlord has made excellent progress on his project to convert our former neighbor’s home into a nursing institution. And I’ve learned a bunch of things.

I’ve been quietly and not-so-quietly looking for someplace else to live. Someplace not Sun City, not Payson, not Tucson, not Boise, and on and interminably on. Which is to say, someplace else to live in Phoenix, preferably in the zip codes that make up the “North Central” district.

Real estate is radically hot here just now. Any house that’s even faintly desirable moves within three days of appearing on the market. So it seems, at least. That is literally true in many cases, and in others, kinda metaphorically so. Nothing stays on the market for long.

And the prices simply defy belief! We are in California territory, folks. I thought I paid too much for this house when I bought it for #$232,000. It’s now worth at least $550,000!

Redfin thinks our beloved old house in Encanto is now worth $1,146,500. It was a gorgeous place, now gussied up with “more money than taste” embellishments.

My son’s charming but tiny little house? $480,208.

Can you imagine? It’s hard to conceive how young people can even dream of buying a freestanding house. And apparently they don’t: apartment blocks are springing up all over the city.

Oh well. In the interim, what else has happened?

Among other things, I learned that the quiet, elderly couple who live across the street from me are yet more of Tony’s relatives!


They are Pretty Daughter’s in-laws! Her husband’s parents.

“Were” is, at least partially, the operative term. The old man died, and the elderly woman has been living there alone. My guess is that as soon as Tony finishes the nursing home two doors down, the first tenant will be Mom. Then he’ll glom her house and turn it into a nursing home, too.

Meanwhile, my eccentric next-door neighbor, who occupies the house between the Funny Farm and Other Daughter’s place, drained her swimming pool. She also had some masons lay two rows of large cinderblocks atop her back wall, so no one can look over her six-foot (now about ten-foot) wall into the yard.

When you drain a pool here, you often end up with a shallow puddle of water in the bottom of the deep end. This pond then merrily breeds mosquitoes. The damn thing is way across her yard from my side fence, so I can’t tell whether any such breeding ground is there. But her pool is right up against Other Daughter’s fence.

And lo! A few days ago Other Daughter reported that she came down with encephalitis! And she damn near died. Apparently at one point the doctors thought she was going to die. Then, when she came back around, they thought she would never walk again — she couldn’t move her legs!

Eventually she did recover control over her legs and is now walking briskly around the ‘Hood, as has been her wont forever.

The type of encephalitis that holds forth here is called Western Equine Encephalitis. A-a-a-n-d…it’s carried by mosquitos!

Whaddaya know?

I haven’t seen her long enough to catch her and clue her to the possible connection between this terrible illness and our neighbor’s mosquito-breeding bit. But if I’m right, she needs to tell her dad about that. If anyone can put the eefus on that, it’s Tony.

Otherwise, though, I have two big containers of mosquito bits. If Other Daughter could ascertain whether water is standing on the bottom of that pool, we could throw a fistful of that stuff over the wall, and that would take care of the problem.

But problem it is: if O.D. could catch a horrific ailment from bugs growing in a neglected pool, then so can other folks in the neighborhood. Including me. And Ruby. And all those old folks in Tony’s planned institutes.

That poor young woman! Can you imagine? What an ordeal!

Meanwhile, life goes on, for the rest of us as well as for O.D. The weather is beyond gorgeous. And I most decidedly do not want to move out of my house.

Over the past several weeks, I’ve driven from pillar to post, searching for some replacement for the Funny Farm. There’s precious little out there. Certainly precious little in the price range I can afford. There are some cute places here and there…but the cost is in the many hundreds of thousands of dollars. In the desired neighborhoods, affordable places are close to fine thoroughfares like Conduit of Blight Blvd., which emanates a deafening roar 24/7. Or they’re 900 square feet. Or they require tens of thousands of dollars worth of repair and upgrades.

Meanwhile, I become more and more aware that I like my house — nay, I love my house, and I do not want to move out of it. Within the next week or two, it’ll be too late to peddle it to some unwary buyer, because Tony will have his latest nursing home in business. And you know, maybe the correct attitude is, to quote our Late-Unlamented First Lady,

I don’t care.

Do you?

Those Eastern Europeans! Maybe they’ve got somethin’ there!