Coffee heat rising


Olive Getten DeLong

Whiling away some idle moments — fast turning into hours! — exploring the Web for clues to my honored (and not-so-honored) forebears… Sources like are full of stuff: if you’ve got a name, they’ve got the dope. The obvious, of course: details like birth and death dates, places of residence, relatives’ names. And some things that are less obvious, like marriage and divorce records, leads to relative after relative after never-heard-of ’em relative.

Some of this stuff confirms the family legends; some of it contradicts the stories you were told; some of it amounts to brand-new revelation. And some of it poses new mysteries.

Always entertaining.

The current entertaining mystery goes like this: says my grandmother — my mother’s mother — died in 1979. That would have put her in her 80s, which is far from impossible: other women in her family lived into their 90s.


My mother said she died in her 40s (this would have been in the late 1920s or early 1930s), of uterine cancer (supposedly brought on by her extravagantly wild lifestyle). My mother claimed to have attended her at her deathbed, as a teenager caring for her dying mother at the California grandparents’ home in Alameda. Like her maternal relatives, we’re told, Olive was a Christian Scientist (despite her loose sexual mores). Thus she refused to go a doctor for the obvious symptoms until it was too late to save her life.

At least, so my mother claimed.

If has the story right (BIG “if”), that claim was fabricated and richly embroidered. And the horror of this speculation is…well…truth to tell, anything’s possible. has her dying in 1979.

Double-check that. Triple-check it: yes, 9 December 1979, in Berkeley, California.

But…but…but…. that doesn’t even make sense! We were back in the States by then. My mother, claiming I was too ill to continue in the miserable school in lovely Araby, demanded to bring me home. She and I arrived in San Francisco when I was in the 6th grade: around 12 years old. That would have been 1956 or 57. But by then my mother was already claiming that her mother, Olive, was dead. The rest of the family lived in Berkeley and Sausalito, and believe me: there was no sign of a wild-assed grandmother there.

As a teenager, my mother had been sent from Upstate New York to California — to the East Bay — when her paternal grandmother died, leaving the grandfather with a dirt farm to cultivate and no help in caring for a teenager. The grandmother dies in 1927, when my mother would have been 16. Olive already has the Big C, and my mother ends up tending her during what must have been my mother’s mid-teens. BUT….

Yes. But…the notes I’m finding at say Olive died in 1979. Fifty-two years later!

Where WAS she all that time? If she wasn’t in the ground, that is…

Most likely, the date is actually 1929…it’s probably a typo. But still…it’s intriguing.


My cousin, who probably is responsible for this narrative, converted to Mormonism many years ago. Though he lives in California, these records are probably at the Temple in Salt Lake City.

However, my dear friend and erstwhile business partner happens to be — yea verily! — a nice Mormon girl! A-a-a-n-d she’s active with the Church. So she knows whereof she speaks and how to speak it.

The Temple here in Arizona — in a suburb called Mesa — has access to these records.

My thought is that I should get off my duff while I’m still capable of rising from a chair, drive out there, get myself signed in, and go through whatever records they have.

Lemme tellya: Olive’s life is the stuff of novels. If I had enough information, I could write a story that truly wouldn’t quit. Very possibly one that could become a best seller or the foundation of a movie. She was one. wild. lady. And her relatives, while outwardly stodgy, were…well, verrreee strange.


Stop the World….

One of THOSE days again: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong.

Finally get the spilled coffee cleaned up off the deck, the table, the this and the that. Drag stuff into the garage sink to wash. Pissed mightily.

I mean…really. All I wanted to do was sit down, turn on my li’l computer (assuming it will come on, no longer a safe assumption), and diddle away time on the Internet whilst swilling down the rest of the morning’s coffee.

Everything I touch goes SPROI-OI-OI-OINGGGGGG!

Finally ensconced. The mosquito coil I lit an hour or two ago seems to have chased off the effing mosquitos, bred by my effing neighbor’s eccentric habit of leaving a muddy puddle on the bottom of her empty swimming pool, which she decided to drain a couple years ago. Drain…and just LEAVE there.

Is the whole WORLD festooned with nut cases, or is it just my neighborhood?

This one, a freelance accountant who apparently has some emotional problems, is supported by her father, who bought the house next door and ensconced her in it.

Turns out Dad is a DIY real-estate magnate, and surprise! He owns the house next door to M’hijito! So that place is a rental, thereby depressing the value of the house the kid and I paid a hefty price to buy.

That puddle is no doubt what was responsible for Other Daughter’s case of Western equine encephalitis, which damn near killed her. O.D. is in the habit of leaving her windows open all the time, and, weirdly, she doesn’t have screens on those windows. No doubt so her tribe of cats can hop in and out at will.

Little details like epidemiology and safe maintenance seem beyond the scope of altogether too many of the Funny Farm neighbors.

Meanwhile, my own yard is still ankle-deep in debris from the late storm. Gerardo said he would come by today to deal with that and also some fairly desperately needed exterior repairs, which was very kind of him…


ESPECIALLY since it dawns on me (if not on him) that today is Columbus day!

Even though his workers are his cousins, WTF? He shouldn’t be working those guys today,. Nor, given the way he throws himself around, should he be making himself work today. Give yourself a break, dude!

So, though I need Gerardo to come around, I do hope he doesn’t.

Speaking of cultural issues, I am really afraid that my neighbor J is about to get ripped off massively.

This is the lovely Latina lady the city gave SDXB’s house to when he sold it for a song in his furor to move away from Tony the Romanian Landlord. Seriously: they had a program where they were buying houses to move people out of the way of the airport construction, which was merrily leveling a barrio in lovely south Phoenix. The area, as you can imagine, was a slum of the first water, being directly under the path of incoming and outgoing jet aircraft…24/7.

So getting into SDXB’s 2100-square-foot house in North Central was an astonishing Godsend for J…but… You understand, she doesn’t have the income to maintain such a place. Her kids are helping, though.

I happen to be enamored of J. She is extremely nice, quiet, and pleasant to have as a neighbor. A-a-a-n-d…that’s why I’m worried.

The recent storm blew a couple of shingles off her roof, same as it did mine. But where my Roofer Guy said “nooo problem: I’ll be back next week to fix them,” hers said “ohhhhh dear! The whole roof must be replaced!”

Uh huh.

Well, I doubt it. That roof looks relatively new; if you study it, you see it’s in excellent condition. If anything, it’s in better shape than mine. I moved here in 2007, shortly after SDXB bought that house that Josie has now. I will say, I don’t remember his having the roof redone…but I don’t remember what I had for breakfast these days.

And…y’know…if you’ve lived in the barrio all of your days, chances that you’ll have adequate homeowner’s insurance — or any homeowner’s insurance — are practically nil, that being something you may never have heard of. Just hope she doesn’t get ripped off.

I did share my new Roofer Dude’s phone number and suggested she get a second estimate. And mentioned to RD’s wife/receptionist that I have a real bad feeling about the guy J is dealing with just this minute. Sure hope she’ll call them.

Speaking again of the ineffable Gerardo, back & forth…. I finally FOUND another much-needed rolling hose-winding stand, this one for the side yard. Amazon provided one for the front spigot and one for the spigot out back by the pool, but… go to order another one and poof!!! You make it disappear!


So, not finding quite what I wanted in the remains of Amazon’s choices, I finally bestirred myself to traipse up to Home Depot. And lo! There it was…and only ONE of them left!


So now we have a really nifty hose winder-upper gadget, easy to use and with plenty of room for a hose that will run alllll the way back to the alley fence. Looks pretty sturdy, so I’m hoping it’ll last for a few years.

That should please Gerardo: one less hose-wrestling hassle!


Some new Incident seems to be under way. Fire and police sirens have been wailing away from the direction of Conduit of Blight and Gangbanger’s way.

Haven’t seen a helicopter…usually there’s at least one gnus helicopter in search of morbid content to fill TV minutes.

That’s a major intersection, seriously messed up by the presence of the Bum’s Railway, which carries any number of drug addicts and panhandlers into the ‘Hood. Several low-rent (read: “cheaply built and highly flammable”) apartment buildings reside in that area, as well as a trailer park.

Welp… No sign of Gerardo. Believe I’ll get up and head for Costco…via a different exit from the ‘Hood!


Whatever Can Go Wrong…


LOL! One of those days, that is…with a vengeance!

Well…maybe not that extreme. But certainly to an extent on the high side of ridiculous.

Last week I had the laptop worked on by an outfit called MacMedia, out in lovely Scottsdale’s tourist district. It’s almost a full hour’s drive out there, on a good day. One-way. But they’re worth it. These guys are brilliant, and whatever CAN be fixed, they WILL fix.

So yesterday, they summon me thither to come retrieve the spiffed up computer.

Traipse traipse traipse, traipse traipse traipse…  Get out there, collect the machine: thrilled. They’ve somehow contrived to block ALL the blitz of incoming spam and scam emails!

Have they  blocked my friends? Nooooo idea: presumably I’ll find out. But for the nonce, at least that mess is tidied up.

This morning, there was one more thing that needed to be attended to, and I wanted to look in to buying a new or refurbished laptop to have a back-up for when this one craps out. Which it will, sooner than later…of that you can be sure.

Traipse traipse traipse, traipse traipse traipse…

They said to get there about 9:15 to 9:30. Ducky: I’m a little early.

Wait wait wait, wait wait wait

9:30. No one around.

Stroll around Scottsdale’s agèd Fifth Avenue. About all that’s left by way of retail stores are hair salons and art galleries. Stroll stroll stroll…down to Indian School Road, one of the Valley’s unlovelier thoroughfares. Come upon an old, fenced-off motel: no doubt once a nice enough tourist trap, now a ruin. Wander through…looks like they’re getting ready to tear it down. Someday. Pretty clearly it’s been in this predicament for quite some time.

This was once a thriving, vibrant arts, restaurant, and fancy retail district. It’s a ghost town now.

Where have all the tourist traps gone,
Long time pa-a-ssin’…
Where have all the tourists gone,
Long time ago?

Roam back to the computer store. No sign of life.

Ohh, screw it!

Climb back in the car and head outta there.

Mission Unaccomplished!

Cruise back across the surface streets, passing at a distance the (highly!!!) upscale neighborhood where my best friend in graduate school lived, with her low-income-earning socially useful husband.

HOW did those two find that really rather cool and wonderful studio on a couple acres of land, adjunct to a large, real adobe richistani’s house with space for a vegetable garden, with a big swimming pool that no one but those two used and a view from the side of a very expensive mountain and a straight shot down 68th street into Tempe, right to the university?

Huh…  Why have I never thought of that question before?

Not very curious as a kid, was I?

Oh well.

Driving driving driving, westward ever westward. Through tracts of palace-sized custom houses, their weird post-modern architecture uglier than pussly in my opinion, driving driving driving….

Think about my friend’s life. Think about her kids’ lives. Think about her ex-husband’s life. Think about my life. Think about my kid’s life. Think about my ex-husband’s life…driving driving driving….

Arrive back at the Funny Farm. By now I’ve been on the road around two hours.

Reflect that I intended to stop by the Safeway and get a booster shot to cover the current variant of the plague. Haul the computer in. Let the dog out. Climb back in the car: drive to the Safeway.

Wait is a minimum of 20 minutes, I’m told.

Now, I really don’t want to stand around breathing other folks’ germs even five minutes, to say nothing of 20-plus minutes.

Stalk back across the parking lot, jump in the car, drive out. Dodge a FRANTIC fire truck charging into the lot…did someone pass out while receiving their Omicron shot?

Weasel away from that mess.

Drive up to the Walgreen’s in the gangland bordering the ‘Hood just to the north. Squeak around a couple of sketchy looking clusters in the parking-lot; dodge into the store.

“We don’t have any of the vaccine. Call us on Monday to see…”


Drive down to the Albertson’s on Gangbanger’s Way.

“You have to make an appointment several days in advance to get a shot.”


Drive home.

Put on my favorite around-the-house/reading glasses. One of the temple pieces is about to fall off.

Call the beloved traveling glasses repair-dude (you would not believe this amazing man…and he comes to your house!). He’s maxed. Please call next Monday to see if he can find time to come by someday next week.

Dig out the newer, more bourgeois Costco glasses with the progressive Rx. They’re OK…I’m just not fond of having to tilt my head at a neck-kinking angle to read copy. Oh well.

Call the computer store. They beg me to come back. Ohhkayyyy.

Defrost a piece of salmon; cook it and an ear of corn on the grill. Feed the dog some of it, thereby ingratiating myself for the next week. Eat lunch/dinner.

Life in Hell…

The day

Ahhh, another lovely August day in Phoenix: 104°, 29% humidity. WHAT a garden spot!

And folks: we got guys out there workin’ like horses in that unholy, soggy heat.

We start the day with a New Yard Dude, a fella I snabbed whilst strolling through Upper Richistan. For slightly more than twice what the beloved but perennially absent Gerardo charges, he agreed to shovel out the seriously neglected front and back yards. Thank you, dear man!!

He does a superb job, not a mere excellent job. The place is transformed!!

  • The weeds are gone.
  • The rampant tree branches are trimmed back.
  • The quarter-minus is raked and smoothed and niftied up.
  • The back-breaking heavy gravel in front is de-weeded and raked smooth.
  • The dog is in love.

Of all those, the last is the simplest, because the dog is in love with everyone.

The amount of soul-crushing work this gent did defied belief.

And then, God help him and all of us, he jumped in his truck to go off to another job!!!

He did miss the weeds in the alley (Upper Richistan doesn’t have alleys, so he probably doesn’t know that alley weeds are the homeowner’s responsibility). But that comes under the heading of No Big Deal: I have a gallon of concentrated Round-Up. Haven’t used it because I haven’t wanted to contaminate my few sprinkling or spraying devices with the stuff. But WTF? Tomorrow ayem I’ll take one of the sprinkling buckets, mix up some Round-Up, and drizzle it on the alley weeds.

One problem solved.

Next the phones/Internet/WTF.

A Cox guy shows up shortly after dawn cracks.

Along about the time New Yard Dude shows up, another Cox guy shows up.

They puzzle and figure and wrestle and wrestle and puzzle and figure and puzzle and figure and wrestle and finally, for reasons that no normal human can conceive, announce that the problem is SOLVED.


Ohhhkayy…heard that wind blow before.

We experiment with the phones a bit. Looks like probably…possibly…maybe they’re right. I dunno. I can’t tell. What I do know is that if the damn system works while the Marvelous Cox Dudes are here, it no doubt won’t work after they walk out the door.

Ohhh well and WTH. That just means these cuties will have to be invited back in the house. Wot a shame!

In the meantime, I’ve acquired another wireless doorbell to replace the one inactivated by the latest Sh!thead Attack. This, I must unpack, set up, and install at the front door and at the front gate.



Have you noticed how spectacularly almost everything is overpackaged?

Took half my lifetime to slice and wrench it out of its ridiculous plasticized wrapping. Finally got it out. Read the instructions.

They want you to install these little flat battery things somewhere. But…but…WHERE is less than perfectly obvious.

After some unholy amount of time (so it felt) trying to figure out what the fuck they were talking about, I finally came to a guess that worked.

Now we have two of these things that have to be installed at the front door and the front gate, and a bingy-bonger box that has to find a home inside the house.

Wrestle wrestle wrestle Rassle rassle rassle Wrestle wrestle wrestle…finally…YES!!!!!! IT WORKS.

Yes. Now after three days of thrashing around, we have here a doorbell that rings when you push its button.

In other realms:

Half of a pair of dear friends passed away a few days ago. Not unexpected, but still…sad. Planned to return to choir this fall, now that the worst of the plague is dying down. But sadly, it looks like the very first thing we’ll be doing is singing at his service!

Heaven help us all. Especially him.

His wife moved them into the Beatitudes specifically so they could get care for a much aging man (he was 94), and because they had a lunatic next-door neighbor who truly was a threat. Never once did she say to him or to anyone else “I’m moving us there specifically to get care for you,” but now we see that must have been the case. Her daughter tells me she’s moving to California to live with the kids.

Where this leaves the beloved Connie the Long-Haul Truck Driver escapes me. Presumably her brother will have to overrule his exceptionally hostile wife to take over the kindnesses their father bestowed. Or else…heaven help us.

As we scribble, a cloud passes over the  mid-day sun, and the room’s light grows dimmer and dimmer…

The View from the Steam Cooker

Incredibly humid. Not all that hot at 5:40 a.m., objectively speaking, but so wet you’re dripping with sweat after you’ve walked the dog half a block.

That does nothing to put a leash on the morning Doggy Jamboree, though. Ruby wants to go to the park, which for the human entails a PITA of the first water: a mile of being yanked and pulled and jerked around, hauling the pooch away from dog fights and idiots simpering “ohhh don’t worry, they jes’ wanna plaaayyyy.”

And yes, I do know: Ruby behaves like that because she’s not adequately leash-trained. Those who’ve been around FaM for awhile will recall that I got her just as I was being wheeled away to have both boobs chopped off. Convalescing from that adventure a) took awhile and b) did not leave me much in the mood for wrestling with a dog. Consequently, she has grown up sweet, charming, cute, adorable, and utterly devoid of leash manners. And now that I’m old, I feel no more inclined to wrestle with leash-training than I did when I was enjoying invalidism.

Decide instead to roam north and west, staying in the low-rent section of the ‘Hood. And alas, “low-rent” is how it’s beginning to look: yard after yard smothered in weeds, some of the crops knee-high. The house owned (still owned?) by the jerk who used to try to pick fist-fights with the mentally challenged guy across the street apparently had an attic fire. Unclear whether anyone is living there, but nothing has been done to repair the holes in the charred roof and attic walls.

Huge thunderheads have built up in the northwest: they look like they’re over Yarnell or maybe over Wickenberg. That’s weird: usually those kinds of storms come in from the southeast, blowing in from the Gulf of Mexico.

Wunderground reports major flooding in Las Vegas, which is sorta vaguely in the Yarnellish direction…but it seems unlikely that we could see clouds over Vegas from this far away. Just now, sez Wunderground, it’s 94 here with a predicted high of 104; 38% chance of rain.

Our neighbor’s pipe-installing dudes are lumbering back and forth out there in their truck, apparently lost. Must be a new driver or crew…they were down the street the other day heaving around in the heat. Nothing like a little plumbing crisis under a 105-degree sun, eh?

Stagger home. Tumble into pond. Dog has a frenzy.

Ruby hates, hates, HATES it when the Human gets into the pool. She barks and screams and yells and charges back and forth outside the gate, totally frantic. Guess having fallen in the drink a couple of times herself, she thinks I need to be rescued. ASAP. So…if I’m in a hurry and don’t feel like cornering the dog and locking her up, that kinda puts the eefus on the morning dip.


And now the dog is fed, the human is fed, the dishes are washed, the garbage is hauled out, the random trash is picked up out of the alley, the email is read and answered, the sheets are dried and folded, another load of laundry is in the washer, the yard dude is summoned to clean up the weeds and trim the tree limb off the neighbor’s roof, and the human…is going back to bed.

Weather, Arizona-style

Yes, Virginia: there IS a weatherman in Arizona.

Actually, quite a few of them. Arizona has three (at least) climate zones: low (hot hot hot!) desert, plateau (temperate in summer, cool enough for maybe some light snow in the winter), and mountain (pleasant in the summer and colder than a by-god in the winter, festooned by the occasional blizzard). Lovely Phoenix is, as you no doubt have guessed by now, in the accursed low desert, Death Valley-like in summertime.

And yea verily, it has been hotter than the Hubs here, reaching figures above 112 off and on. That’s for June and July.

Come August, come the so-called “monsoon,” a rainy season caused by a shift in prevailing winds that blows humid, hot air up from the Gulf of Mexico and gives birth to towering thunderheads and violent local rainstorms. Just now, for example, it’s 8 p.m. Outdoor temp is 98°; humidity a mere 15%. Rain not predicted, at least not for this evening, despite thunderheads all around the Valley’s perimeter.

I’ve been letting the AC keep it at around 78 inside the house. Apparently that’s a bit too balmy: just got a “balmy” bill from the power company: $345.71.


I’ll probably have to draw that down from Fidelity, since the checking account is already running low, what with the exorbitant gasoline bills. Pisseth me offeth. It’s 81 in the master bedroom. A breezy 79 in the middle (guest) bedroom, which is directly under the air conditioning unit and so gets air fresh out of the fridge.

If I had any sense, I’d decamp to the bed in there. But not only do I not have any sense, but the dog and I do not fit well on a single twin bed. So far I haven’t accidentally kicked her off in my sleep, but that’s an imminent hazard.

Turn the ceiling fan to “shamal,” and you get a  nice little breeze in here…or, some might say, a cyclone. Not very restful, though it does create the illusion of a slightly cooler temperature.

Hm. Speaking of shamals, in Dhahran, just up the road from where we used to live on the /s/ lovely Persian Gulf, it’s 6 a.m. just now: 94 degrees out of doors; 33% humidity.  Ah, what a garden spot! Makes Arizona look like a temperate paradise.

Which it is, most of the time. Dhahran is not, most of the time.