Coffee heat rising

b-a-a-a-d human!

Okay, I done dood it. Weaseled out of something that I’m too lazy to be bothered with today, and did it by virtue of a…uhm…prevarication.

I am soooooo sick of the brain-numbing thrice-weekly physical therapy sessions. Not that they’re not helping — to the contrary, I believe they’re speeding things right along. Not that the staff isn’t awesome and great — also to the contrary. They’re totally wonderful.


First off, every session eats up, in effect, the entire goddamn morning. True, they don’t start till 10:30. But by and large I’ve got to go out the door by 10. Which means I’ve got to be bathed and hairwashed (a trick when one arm is almost nonfunctional), fed, painted, and dressed, activities that will absorb upwards of 45 minutes to an hour. And that means I’ve got to get started no later than 9:30. Which means that if I have the temerity to walk the dog before it gets hot, I don’t get much else done between breakfast and exit time. And it’s 11:30 before I get out of the place. Sooo…one could argue that the whole morning is dominated by these repetitive, nothing-new sessions.

And since what they have me doing is the same damn thing, Monday Wednesday Friday Monday Wednesday Friday Monday Wednesday Friday Monday Wednesday Friday into eternity, I fail to see why I can’t do those exercises here, without killing 30 minutes in driving time.

Which is what I intend to do today. Sometime.

Called them and claimed my car’s battery died and I’m waiting on the mechanic to come fix it. 😀

Well. It’s a likely story. And they seem to have fallen for it.

Now that that time-suck is dispensed with:

  • Drive up to the head shop on the way to the university and pick up some THC gummies
  • Proceed from there to the credit union, on the GDU West campus; deposit a thousand bucks worth of CE Desk checks
  • Cruise on from there to Costco; buy the things that an Instacart person cannot be relied upon to choose correctly
  • Return to the Funny Farm; get online to Instacart and order up 50# of birdseed from Costco, plus enough other junk to plump up the required bottom line to $35 so as to get one of their excellent runners to traipse over there, pick up the birdseed, tote it back there, and dump it into the bird-seed barrel (The issue being that I cannot pick up a 50-pound sack, nor am I in any shape to transfer 50 pounds of birdseed into the barrel, one shovelful at a time.)
  • Continue on about my business, which today seems to be perfecting laziness skills

Yes. It entered my furry little head that the store where we bought the marijuana plants might have other products…and yea verily: Look the place up online and discover it functions as a regular head shop.

Very convenient! It’s directly on my beaten path: up the freeway to T-bird (the shopping center is just to the west of the I-17), into the Lowe’s as needed (fortuitously, they’ve installed this dive right in the parking lot with the Lowe’s!), onward to the university to deposit clients’ checks, and straight up 35th Avenue to the Costco. Amazing!

Life as a Splinter in the Foot…

LOL! How’s this for a metaphor: Life is a splinter in your toe.


Why not?

This morning I managed to drug myself with Benadryl so as to sleep all the way through until 5:30 and yet wake up without that Benadryl Feeling of  being locked inside a wad of cotton. The trick: break the pill in two and swallow the smallest piece.

So that’s refreshing…given that I’ve been waking up at three or four in the morning every goddamn day, no matter what time I go to bed. Actually got eight hours of sleep last night, for the first time in longer than I can remember.

But — nothing ever working properly these days, after all — the first thing I discover (well…after being reminded that the busted shoulder still hurts like Hell) is a tiny splinter stuck in the bottom of a big toe. It’s one of those hairlike things that’s so tiny you can’t see it…but not so tiny that it doesn’t sting. Found about where it is, reached for the tweezers, and…yeah… You know the outcome of that.

No tweezers.

Oh well. It wouldn’t matter anyway, because the thing is so tiny I can’t see it.


Honestly. Life has become a whole series of splinters in the toe.

The busted shoulder is more like a log in the toe, come to think of it. That one throws off a cloud of splinters, not the least of which is having to traipse to the physical therapist’s gymnasium every other day (literally!), and on the off-days having to kill an hour in DYI exercises. The PT is appreciated, nevertheless, because those guys have managed to at least return some mobility to the crippled arm. I’m not having to dictate this post, for example — instilling an error in every third frustrating, tooth-grinding word. Even though it’s ever so slightly painful, both hands will now rest upon the keyboard.

This means that late last night I finally finished the client’s 72-page-long Chapter 4, replete with 249(!!!) footnotes. Speaking of splinters in your toe… 😀

That project has caused me to decide that when this book is over, I’m closing the editorial business. Even though it’s an interesting subject, a scholarly study of just about anything will, by its nature, take the “interest” out of the most interesting anything. I am done sitting here for hour after hour after eye-glazing hour plowing through academic disquisitions, no matter what their subject  and no matter what their authors’ grasp of the English language. It’s challenging enough when all is well, but when you hurt so much you can barely think, it’s ridiculous.

And one thing that has become obvious: I just don’t have that many hours, days, weeks, months, or years left in which to plod along relatively pain-free. Indeed, it is entirely possible that I will never be pain-free again.

Yesterday I asked the physical therapist if all this agonizing treatment will work — if there’s any real reason to believe that the shoulder will heal to the extent that it will not hurt all the time. He assured me that yes, sure, right, of course it will.

But…what would one expect him to say, hm?

To get better, I need to get more exercise. But exercising hurts. So…that’s somewhat counterproductive.

Taking the dog for a walk of a mile or two, normally a favorite way to get some mild exercise, is also becoming counterproductive. Really, I need two hands to wrangle the corgi, especially if some other clown comes along with another out-of-control dog.

Last night we went out after dark, because in the present 100-degree temps the hot pavement will burn Ruby’s feet. We’re entering Lower Richistan, walking up the lane that goes into the parklike realms of Upper Richistan, when we see a car parked on our side of the street — the wrong side — with its headlights blasting into our eyes.


So I cross the street to get away from the a$$hole’s high beams.

So he starts his car, crosses over the road to our side of the street, and bears down on us.

No kidding. On the sidewalk.

So I grab the dog and haul her across the neighbor’s lawn, into the middle of the yard.

We miss getting hit, but this little terror kicks off a dramatic reverse-sneezing episode in the dog. She’s horking and horking and gasping for air as this a$$hole drives past, barely missing us. At least he doesn’t actually come up on the lawn.

But now the dog is in bad straits. I consider ringing a neighbor’s doorbell but figure there’s nothing anyone else can do. The dog will either get over it or pass out. If she can’t breathe, she’ll either catch her breath or she’ll die.

I pick up the horking dog — yes, busted shoulder and all — and carry her back up the street toward our house.

By the time we reach Feeder Street N/W, the poor little dog settles down and begins to breathe normally.

We continue our stroll, only through our part of town: the low-rent district.

For a change, no cop helicopters buzz us. That’s something. I guess. The racket from the drag-racing on Conduit of Blight and Gangbanger’s Way is annoying. Supposedly the city has a noise ordinance that bans unmuffled cars and motorcycles. This is most honored in the ignoring of it, by the cops. The cops ignore the drag-racing, too. When one of the bastard hotrod drivers blasted through the fence of a big lot up on Gangbanger’s that houses a small herd of prize cattle, the homeowner noted that the cop apparently knew the (drunk) driver — and just let him go!

So, no: we don’t walk up in that direction.


My son’s phone rang busy into the night. Since this is unlikely, it means one of two things: either his phone is on the fritz or something has happened to him. This morning I’ll have to try to call him again, probably to no avail. At that point I won’t be able to stand it and so will drive down to his house, which no doubt will annoy him no end.

But I can’t do that this morning because I have the dermatologist today: almost an hour-long traipse out to the west side. That will soak up the entire middle part of the day, plus a quarter-tank of gasoline. Speaking of splinters in your toe.

Oh well. Maybe they’ll have some kind of magnifying glass that can find the real-life splinter.


I’m supposed to traipse out to the Mayo on Friday to be subjected to some HORRIFIC ninety-minute test that entails jabbing needles into your muscles and setting off little electric shocks to see how your nervous system responds.

The drive out there, one way, is 40 minutes on a good day. So in toto we’re talking a total of 40 + 40 + 90 = 170 minutes of torture — given that driving across the homicidal roads here is itself a species of torture. How I’m supposed to drive home from the Mayo, with a busted shoulder, after this new Adventure in Medical Science escapes me. And in fact I’m thinking today I will call and cancel that appointment.

There is, after all, a fukkin’ limit!

The hour grows late. The dog is unfed. And so…away. I guess.

Forward to the Past…

Military hospital during the Spanish Flu epidemic. My uncle died in one of these places.

Sometimes it feels like the 21st century is carrying us backward, not forward along the current of time. The covid plague is itself a gigantic throwback to the past, reminding us of the 1918 flu epidemic, of the recurrent waves of Black Plague, of smallpox and tetanus, of typhoid and cholera, all of which were commonplace before Louis Pasteur brought us vaccines and sanitation. Since the contagion arose, I’ve taken up a time-consuming habit of my mother’s, something she was taught to do by way of keeping her family healthy.

I grew up in a God-forsaken American camp in Saudi Arabia. In those days, the Third World was seriously the Third World, and the U.S. hadn’t been “First World” long enough for any such concepts to have taken root in the psyches of my parents and grandparents. The company — Aramco — coached all the women on sanitation practices to protect their families’ health. (Married women were not allowed to work for the company; single women came out as teachers or nurses, but if they married someone they had to quit their jobs.)

(Yes, Virginia, that WAS life in the 1950s!)

My mother had been taught that every single piece of produce had to be washed — thoroughly! — in soap and water. This was because most of the produce sold through the commissary was grown in the Middle East, where at the time agricultural fields were commonly fertilized with human waste. Amoebic dysentery was endemic…and believe me, that was an ailment you did not want to catch.

So that’s exactly what she did: every apple, every orange, every green bean, every whatEVERedible was washed manually. Lettuce and cabbage were soaked in a sinkful of dilute Clorox and then rinsed thoroughly before going into the refrigerator. We couldn’t have strawberries or raspberries or the like, because they couldn’t be sanitized in any rational way. Even a melon had be washed with soap and water: a blade slicing into an unclean melon would smear any pathogens on the skin across the melon’s flesh.

And y’know what? Washing every single piece of produce before it comes into the kitchen is THE biggest PITA that came down the pike. It’s nicely exacerbated by having to squirt every cardboard or plastic package and every tin can with disinfectant and rub it down before it can be busted open. Ugh!

It makes shopping powerfully aversive.

I think of my mother having to do that for every shopping trip over TEN YEARS…that’s how long we lived in the godforsaken place. Good grief.

No wonder she had one (count it, 1) shopping day per week!

That’s about what I’m doing, too: limiting the shopping trips to as few junkets/month as possible.

We thought it was oh! so wonderful when we came back to the states and didn’t feel that every bite of produce had to be thoroughly washed with strong soap or detergent and dipped in Clorox. One might rinse it off, but one didn’t feel that every apple and orange and can of soup had to be sanitized.

That was back when America was a “first-world country” because it was one of the only countries in the world that had a USDA and regulations that inflicted some control over the sanitation of groceries sold in stores.

No so, anymore. These days much of our food comes in from countries where farmers can’t read the (English-language) safety instructions on the toxic insecticides and some still fertilize crops with horse manure and human manure. Really, if you were at all fastidious (or in the know about imported produce), you’d dunk all your produce in a sudsy bath of Dawn detergent and water, covid-19 or no covid-19.

Between that and the plague that has brought us a contagion much like the pre-20th-century epidemics of smallpox, typhus, typhoid, cholera, influenza, tetanus, bubonic plague, yellow fever, and — yeah: influenza, it feels like we’re moving backward in time.

Back to the future. God help us.

She had good taste…

Here’s a poem that Puerto del Sol published some time back. Truth to tell, the content is from a letter I sent to my son when he was in college. I’d retrieved a set of my mother’s stoneware from a dank storage bin at my Ex’s house — she died a year before my son was born. I guess the headnote is part of the poem…

Nice Taste

After two years of searching, my ex-husband and his new wife find my mother’s stoneware dishes, right where he/i/we put them, must’ve been ten or fifteen years ago . . . in the tin shed behind the carport, cardboard boxes rotting off them like peeling sunburned skin, roach grubs and scorpions scuttering in and out, but amazingly they’re all intact, or as intact as they were when they came into our hands. I write to my son about the dishes and his dead grandmother, whom he has never known.

It was all Denby and Heath in those days.
That was what the young society matrons
had because of course that was what one had.
Denby. Heath. Big lurching plates in dark lurching
colors, swamp green and mud brown and marsh blue
lighted here and there with dabs of St. Elmo’s fire:
orange and gold.

Well so I had to have some Heathware because
your dad and I couldn’t afford Denby
Though Sara B* had Denby, wouldn’t have
anything else and somehow Barbara B**
got Denby, too, well because her mother
worked in a jewelry store
(shh) and got (a discount).
So what I chose was olive green, not to say
avocado green. “Choose things that don’t
go out of style,” she used to say.

And that was what she would buy for me,
ageless clothes that stayed presentable for
ten years and looked like they were purchased
for my grandmother.

It never occurred to me that olive plates would
someday say, enunciating crisply, “Nineteen-sixty-seven.”
How could we ever go out of style?

The bridal buying frenzy infected her.
After I was settled in my new house she
remade her empty nest. One of the things
she refilled it with was a new set of stoneware,
just like the stylish young women’s: Heath.

Only she picked white. White with dust-brown unglazed rim.
Alabaster and earth.
Simple. Clean. Understated. Elegant.
And god help us,
to this day
they’re the height of style.


Weekend as Hassle Magnet

Why do these little shenanigans always happen on the weekend? And why is my house falling apart?




After much banging and thrashing, I pour a glass of cranberry juice (tastes a lot like Campari), pick up the laptop, and Ruby and I stumble out to the front courtyard, where the human can take in the afternoon air and the dog can bark at passers-by.

This latter: not needed. The Lesbian women who moved into the transferred military family’s house are having a small party. One of them has such a loud voice that as she carries on and laughs, you can hear her clear over here. At first I thought they were fighting, and that one of the ladies was shouting at her partner. Not so: they’re just exuberantly enjoying a good time.

So the crumbling fixture of the day: All these houses are plumbed so that the water into the tubs and showers is regulated with a single faucet handle, one of those annoying Mixet-brand things. I hate those things, but there’s nothing you can do about it, if that’s the way the damn house was built. So OK, there’s that.

At one point, a year or so ago, a plumber replaced the annoying round faucet thing in the middle bathroom, where the tub is.

Yesterday I’m in the tub and…POP! The goddamn handle comes off.

Its set screw has worked loose.

How hard could this be, right?

Well:. Very. Nigh unto impossible. The decorative goddamn handle has a little chrome plate whose sole purpose, far as I can tell, is to look pretty. Well. It hides the set screw, which is nice. I guess. Said set screw is now rattling around inside the “compartment” created by this inspired arrangement. And I can. not. get. the. chrome plate. OFF. Can’t prize it loose with my fingernails. Can’t prize it loose with a screwdriver (of any size). Can’t prize it loose with an Exacto knife.

Perhaps my expectations are too high…

So I schlep it up to the Ace Hardware and ask if they can get it loose. And by the way, do they have a staple gun?

Yeah. The staple gun episode. 

Cut to the other project of the day, re-hanging the (genuine!) Navajo rug on the rebuilt wall in the family room, whence I had to remove it for the Great Plumbing Disaster of November 2020. The wall is now rebuilt, replastered, and repainted, and all that is needed to restore normalcy is to return that rug to its vaunted place.


Isn’t there always an except?

When I moved in here, I’d attached the spectacularly expensive hand-made rug to the wall by stapling strips of the low, flat side of Velcro. Not the coarse krinkly tangly side, but the side that the coarse krinkly strip hooks into. These are just clingy enough to hold the rug on the wall, but not rough and coarse enough to tear at it. Worked perfectly.

So this afternoon I go to re-attach the strips, which the drywall guys have kindly set aside. And…

I can. not. find. my. staple gun. Searched from pillar to post and could not find it anyplace. Only thing I can figure is I must have “lent” it to someone, never to see it again. Hence, the trip to Ace: buy a replacement goddammit.

Their guy gets the decorative gadget off the faucet handle. He sells me a staple gun and a box of staples (can’t find those here, either).

Getting in and out of this strip-mall’s parking lot is innaresting, because for reasons that defy comprehension, they’re building a large QT in there. They’ve taken out a venerable old restaurant that died during the plague and are now putting up gasoline islands and a junk-food joint. But it being Sunday, there are no workmen, which is good because I have to go back up there right away.

The staple gun comes encased in a carapace of plastic that I cannot break into. My scissors will not cut through it. None of my tools work on it. So…I schlep it back up there and say you get it open.

Which they do.

Meanwhile, I did manage to get the faucet handle back on so as, for the time being, it works. But…in the course of things, forgot to insert the plastic ring/washer thing in first, causing the silver cap thing to slip inside the top of the compartment and get stuck there. Looks fine if you don’t know what it’s supposed to look like, so I decided that’s…what it’s supposed to look like.

Finally back in the house with the freed staple gun, I manage to put the rug up. And realize that when I first put it in place, the job took me all of about 10 or 15 minutes. This time, the chore has consumed half the afternoon! I take this (no doubt correctly) as a manifestation of advancing age. Nothing about this little project would have confused me or frustrated me 15 years ago. I remember putting that thing up after I moved in and thinking what a great, simple, easy idea it was.

Still haven’t found the old staple gun, which was infinitely superior to the new one — like all old stuff is infinitely superior, I suspect. Better made. Easier on the hands. Less chintzy in appearance.

The day started with a similar little fiasco. When I woke up at 3:30 as goddamn usual, I remembered ohhh shee-ut i’ve gotta be at the dentist’s at 7 a.m. Goodie gum drops. It’s early so I’m reading the client’s copy and cruising the news sites when I think…wait…this IS Monday, right? Who knows, when every day is the same…. Look at the computer’s date line and yup, it says “Monday.”


So along about 6:30 it’s out the door. You can see where this is going, right? After a suspiciously uneventful trip, I arrive at the mid-town high-rise where his office resides. Park in the pay multi-story parking lot…sliding in because the pay-ticket arm is up. Only one other car is parked on the ground floor. Odd. But dawn has barely cracked, and besides, the quarantine is still on. I still don’t think much about this.

Get parked, walk across the plaza to the building’s door…Locked. No security guards in there, either.

Screw it: I turn around and head back to the Funny Farm. Once here, I turn on the computer again and see not Mon in the little date line but Sun.

Jeez. Just the way I love to start the day. Not one day, but two days a-running.

The Queen of Ugly

I just can NOT do Zoom.

And why can I not do Zoom? Because the damn thing shows you — all through the online get-together — a video of yourself. There are some things in this world that I do not wish to see, and that — an image of myself — ranks right up at the top, Number One, among the things that I do not wish to see. Ever.

Nor that anyone else should have to see, come to think of it. 😀

For reasons that no one seems to know — or to be willing to articulate — I am spectacularly unphotogenic. Have been for all of my life. Pictures of me apparently don’t actually look like me. Or if they do, it’s pretty tragic.

I can see myself in the mirror, and I imagine I look OK. I’m not especially fat. Or especially skinny. I do not dress spectacularly, but neither are my outfits unusually dowdy or ugly. I wear good make-up and I do know how to apply it. My hair is a radiant chestnut with red and blonde highlights — and even in my dotage it has hardly any gray. Guessing from the reflection in the mirror, I’m neither very pretty nor very homely.

Other people claim that I look normal enough, even attractive. When I was young and buxom, men used to holler at me, follow me, and make passes at me.

But aim a camera at me, and that changes instantly. In any kind of photograph, whether it’s a still photo or a video, I come out looking uglier than Pussley. More than homely: ugly. Doesn’t matter what I’m wearing. Doesn’t matter what the background is. Doesn’t matter how my hair is styled or how much or little makeup I have on. In any image, I look so ugly as to bring tears to my eyes.

Which is exactly what happened when I turned on Zoom this evening. The program first off shows you an image of yourself. And…oh, my God. It actually did make me cry, so hideous did I look in that thing.

So…’bye! Turned it off. Wish I could turn off the memory.

Years ago, I needed to get a publicity photo done for a book I’d written. I was working at Arizona Highways magazine that time, as staff editor. If you’ve ever seen Arizona Highways, you know that its specialty is making photos look gorgeous.

The magazine’s photo editor, who was an experienced photojournalist and very talented with a camera, proposed to photograph me for this particular milestone. This was very kind of him, because he really did happen to be a high-octane talent.

I tried to explain to him that no matter what anyone tried to do, photos of me invariably made me look like the Wrath. (You understand: he was not the first professional photographer who had tried to do a portrait of me!)

He was having none of it. He felt assured that he could produce a photo that would make me look great and help sell books.


I got my hair styled and laid on the make-up and tricked myself out in my best professional clothes. He showed up with more gear than you can imagine, including special lights and a background and a reflective umbrella thing and…it was all very impressive. I smiled into the expensive professional camera and he took a slew of photos and a good time was had by all…and then he went off to develop the things.

And when he came back with them?

Yep. I looked like the Ugly Duckling magically transformed into an Ugly Woman. He had to allow that was the case. I said I tried to tellya: any time anyone tries to take my picture, this is how it turns out.

He studied the photos for what seemed like quite a few minutes and finally said, truly puzzled, “I just don’t understand it.”

Neither do I. But I sure hate it. And I hate Zoom as much as I hate any other photo device. They all make me cry.