Coffee heat rising

“River of….” FOG?

One of the reasons, I think, it’s so difficult for many people to take global warming reports seriously is the silly hysteria with which weather news is reported.  The high point of this trend comes to mind: the time the local media ALERTed us to the (terrifying!) approach of a TYPHOON, barreling across the deserts of southern California, bound to smash into beautiful uptown Phoenix and level everything in sight. Be scared, be VERY scared!

Typhoon. {snort!} The day of the typhoon dawned clear, blue-skied, and calm. It continued in the same mode as the sun made its happy way across the zenith: through a perfect, crystalline empyrean. Nary a cloud appeared in Helios’s sight.

Ever since, we’ve learned to ignore the overheated click-bait and just go on about our business. Mare’s tails foretell rain. Heavy, low clouds announce the likelihood of imminent rainfall. Lightning, thunder, and the sound of a freight train bearing down on you suggest you might want to take cover.

Welp, this time we were told that (eeeeeeekkkk!!!!!!!) a RIVER OF RAIN was cascading toward our happy vales.

And indeed, California — on the western slope — did get some substantial flooding. But by the time the “River” climbed not one but two mountain ranges, it was more like a burbling stream.

We got a full, quiet, lovely day of slow, soft, sifting rain. A delicately indolent rain was still sprinkling when I went to bed last night.

The result: this morning, a spectacular fog!

How fantastic IS that? This was what it looked like along about 8:30 ayem. And this:

Fuzzy, eh?

Well, I was supposed to deliver the Toyotamobile to Chuck’s for its regular oil change and check-up, along about 9:15. Started to make the 20-minute drive and thought…whooaaaa! I ain’t makin’ this drive through the rush-hour traffic with a bunch of crazies who have never seen fog in their lives. Got about half-way down to Main Drag East when I realized I couldn’t see far enough down the street for it to be safe to drive at all, much less on an arterial crowded with my fellow homicidal drivers. So returned to the shaque, called Chuck on the phone, and begged for a new appointment.

That notwithstanding, it was really amazing outside, so forthwith saddled up little Ruby the Corgi and headed out for a doggy-walk.

That little dog was beside herself with sheep-herding joy. She knew she had found the Climate For Which She Had Been Born! Somehow, we had magically been translated to Wales!

As we crossed into Lower Richistan, I realized I could not see three houses down the street from where we were.

It was the kind of weather phenomenon we called “tule fog” in California: mist that rises up out of wet ground when the temperature conditions are right. It’s patchy and in some spots very thick, indeed. A friend in graduate school lost a brother when he drove off the road on the way home from UC Berkeley to Salinas one holiday weekend. A few years later, she did the same thing, but managed to escape the wreck alive.

Far as I can tell, no one killed themselves in the fog this morning. So…it was just an amazing sorta thing.

Strange. Very strange. But…no river there.

The Frost Is on the Palm Tree…

…and on the neighbors’ roofs. The Human, consequently, is suffering a spate of severe indolence, much to the disgust of the Dog, a creature of crisper climates. Soon, though, the loafing primate will be forced to get up and trot around the ’Hood with the canid. Then it’s off to the Walmart to pick up some household necessities.

It was 36 degrees out there when the Dog and the Human rolled out of the sack this morning. Just now — along about two and a half hours later — the back porch thermometer claims the ambient temp has warmed to a cozy 41 degrees. Ruby just trotted in, bearing a prize mummified orange, which (unless I get off my duff and steal it from her) she will soon chew up into messy crumbs. There she goes…off to her nest in the back bathroom.

Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner is hung up on the new moron-protection equipment at the bottom of the pool. People with not very good sense will swim to the bottom of a pool’s deep end with their long hair floating sexily loose in the water and…surprise! Their hair gets stuck in the main drain (which has very powerful suction), they panic and can’t get loose, and they drown. So to protect such bright folk from themselves, we all get to be inconvenienced: the mandated non-hair-catching drain covers, which were not required by law the last time that pool was replastered, stick up off the floor and trap Harvey, so that he just sits there while the pump runs for eight hours at a time.

Pool Dude says I need to replace Harvey (who was replaced just a year or so ago…and whose life expectancy is a good eight years or more) with a model that has wheels. Right. That’ll be $380, which I don’t happen to have laying around. So…I dunno what to do about that. Maybe just take Harvey out and manually vacuum the pool every week or two. What a PITA.

I may ask Pool Dude if his company can come up with a better price than Leslie’s can. They are, after all, a local outfit, and one of course would rather buy local, all other things being equal. But…not now. Probably not until after the end of the summer, unless I win the lottery.

As soon as the rush hour traffic abates, the dog and I must set out for the daily mile-long circuit around the hood…though I must say, I’d like to take this dog somewhere else for a change of scenery. That would require getting in the car, though, something I find increasingly aversive as the days and months go by.

Yesterday I drove out to Tempe to meet The Kid at our favorite fancy restaurant. She’s now engaged in a new master’s program, with an eye to changing careers altogether. She wants to become a psychological therapist, a calling that (IMHO) she would be very good at.

It only took about 20 or 25 minutes to get out there. But it took over an hour to get home.

Normally one would figure the rush hour begins at 3:00 p.m. here. So at 2:25, westward bound on the 202, it did not register with me that I’d best get off the freeway at 32nd Street rather than driving all the way through to the northbound 51. That was dumb. Yards past the 32nd Street offramp, the traffic started to back up. People as usual were jerking and darting around and cutting each other off…I mean, really, estúpido, what good DOES it do you to be one car-length further on down the road than you already were? So in my inimitable manner I did a bit of my own highly skilled jerking around and cut off the guy who had just cut me off to get into the lane to go north on 24th.

Damn, I’m good! Outa my way, ya crazy fools!

I shoulda been a stock-car driver. Did you know one of my freshman-year roommates raced stock cars? Yeah. Back in the day: she was one of the only female race-car drivers in the country. Nineteen and aught-sixty-two…

The offramp is moving slowly, but it is moving. We cruise past several hundred cars (no exaggeration) becalmed in four side-by-side stopped lanes and we slide off onto 24th Street. From there it is a long drive on the surface streets to the north side of North Central.

I decide to take a favorite short-cut, darting west onto Missouri. Unfortunately, so many people now know about this route that one no longer does much darting on it…unless one is cutting off another of one’s fellow homicidal drivers, of course. Traffic is moving, but at a leisurely pace. Naturally, I forget about the damn school: see a school bus way on down the road. Thank the gods and goddesses, it turns off into a neighborhood. One annoyance out of the way, anyhow.

The favorite restaurant was disappointing: for the second time in a row. The last time, I thought it was a fluke — really, this is one of the best places to eat in the entire Valley. But now it looks like the operative term is was, not is.

Usually the hired help is primo: today the server was well-meaning, for sure…but…well…okay, let’s say it: stump-dumb. He didn’t know a lot about the restaurant business, apparently, and he certainly knew almost nothing about the level of cuisine usually served up there.

But that was probably OK, because the level was decidedly not at its high-water mark. Feeling less than ravenous, I ordered an hors-d’oeuvre  platter of Greek-ish delicacies priced about the same as an entrée, and a cup of fancified tomato soup. The soup had a kind of chemically taste (supposedly “smoked” tomatoes: I suppose the smoke was applied from a bottle). The hummus was overspiced (possibly that’s why it was misspelled on the menu? not really hummus but hummus-like: hummous…). The falafel balls were overcooked, dry, and came with too little tahini to moisten them — just a few smears spread on the plate. The Kid’s salad was…well, a salad: what else can one say?

The wine? I’ve had better from Walmart’s liquor shelf, and got the whole bottle for the six bucks we each paid for a glass of the day’s “special.”

The only part of the meal that was outstanding was the dessert. A berry shortcakey concoction, it was excellent. As for the rest of it: taken together, dessert included, it was decidedly not worth the $43 and change we each paid.

So. I’m thinking the next time I go there, I’m gonna order a cup of coffee and the dessert of the day. Period. I’m sure not dropping another $43 on another meal like what we had yesterday.

Well, the sun is half-way to the yardarm, the frost has melted off the neighbor’s shingles, and so…away!

Good Saturday!

G’day, indeed… Here’s a Saturday that’s been an unusually good day. Weirdly so, one could say.

Come noon, Ruby and I are trotting along…Ruby is practically glowing with joy. Her whole little body radiates a single message: oboy, this is a PERFECT dog day! And yea verily: the weather does make for a corgi-perfect perfect dog day: cool, even crisp, under Welsh-gray sky.

The natives were outside frolicking in force. We came across two kid parties and one big yard sale, all with folks hopping around like popcorn. It’s such a nice neighborhood, with legions of great neighbors!

Today I decided to change up my “system” for keeping the rambunctious Ruby under control. Because (like many corgis) she’s given to dramatic episodes of reverse-sneezing, often set off by pressure on the windpipe, I’d been lashing her up in a harness so that she didn’t give herself a choking fit whilst dragging me down the street. This, when she was a pup, had its drawbacks: without the control of a collar, she could and would pull me along like a little tugboat, so I used a tandem (two-dog) leash, clipping one lead to her collar and one to the harness. This provided some extra traction to keep her at heel but little control to communicate my (usually ignored) desires to her doggy brain.

Cassie could not keep up with Ruby charging down the road at full throttle. So I would have one dog dragging me forward and another dragging me backward…not a very happy arrangement. The double-leash lash-up helped ameliorate that, but it was a major PITA. Now that Ruby  and I can move along without an anchor, it’s a great deal more fun to go for a doggy-walk. And this afternoon I finally registered that, now Ruby is no longer a wacksh!t puppy and now that she’s a lot less susceptible to reverse-sneezing frenzies, maybe a single lead attached to the harness would do. Her collar, of course, bears her name and my phone number, so she can’t go without it. But possibly she doesn’t need to be connected to it.

And yea verily! That proved to be the case. She still drags during the first half-mile, but after awhile she was trotting right along like a normal dog. On a perfect dog day.

Sights in Payson…

Yesterday’s comedy of errors — in which I got the date wrong for a long-planned day trip to Payson — having resolved itself, today was freed up for me to go to the special rehearsal for tomorrow’s evensong concert. Hot diggety! Our choir director has lured a gifted guest conductor into town to lead us in this endeavor, and when I heard about this (belatedly arranged) coaching session, I really wanted to go to it.

So that was wonderful. As usual I learned a lot of things and enjoyed every minute of it. It should be a pretty impressive service:

  • William McKie, “We Wait for Thy Loving Kindness” — which was written for the marriage of the then Princess Eizabeth and Lt. Philip Mountbatten in 1947
  • Preces and responses by William Byrd
  • Stanford’s Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis in G Major
  • Sir Edward Elgar, “Give Unto the Lord”
  • Salve Regina (a Marian antiphon

The Elgar piece is pretty challenging, at least for the likes of moi. But it’s all truly gorgeous music. So it’s quite a joy to be able to participate in that.

Back at the Funny Farm, I managed to get the paperwork tasks under control, more or less, whilst treating the pained back with an ice pack. I’ve learned the cold seems to work better on this particular spavin than does heat. Indeed, the heating pad sometimes seems to make it even worse, whereas a cold pack numbs the damn thing so no pain (well…little pain) can be felt.

In the paperwork department, I was pleased to find a water bill of “only” $118. This is well below the recent “normal” figures of late. And I’m pretty sure it’s because the pool job must have sealed off a leak. Normally, in wintertime the pool would need to be topped up a couple of times a week — presumably because that much evaporates in the dry air. But nay…since we resurfaced the thing last November, I’ve only added water two or three times. Total! And that, not very much.

Admittedly, we’ve gotten a little rain over the past few weeks. But in fact, “a little” is the operative term: in years past, it would have been nowhere near enough to keep up with the “evaporation.”

Starved after the doggy-dragwalk, I enjoyed a pasta orgy in the afternoon: gorgeous sea scallops sautéed in garlic & olive oil along with some chard and cut-up spring asparagus, then doused in marvelous Pomí tomatoes flavored with a splash of wine. Not too bad at-tall. This, celebrating a return to the desired weight target (to my surprise…).

Oddly enough, pasta that is made in Italy of wheat grown in Italy does NOT elicit the usual effect of bloating me up by two to five pounds. Literally: one serving of ordinary American pasta instantly puts on a chunk of weight, which then takes two or three days to dissipate. But for some reason, a comparable amount of this expensive imported Italian stuff does no such thing. Since pasta is my comfort food, IMHO it’s worth the price. But y’know…. If the Italians can make pasta that doesn’t f**k up your system, I fail to see why we can’t do so, too. At any rate, I never buy American pasta anymore. Try it: you might find the same.

Image: Payson art gallery. By Alan Levine from Strawberry, United States – Down The Street Art Gallery. Uploaded by PD Tillman.

Hassle after hassle after hassle

It just goes on and on and on and on…

So in addition to wrenching my back and spraining my hand, which will require a visit later this week to a doctor whose offices are on the south edge of freaking Sun City, halfway to Yuma, now ANOTHER actinic keratosis springs up, practically identical to the one suspected to be a squamous cell carcinoma, which required three trips to the dermatologist for biopsy and removal.

I had a standing appointment next week, not at the office halfway to Yuma but at another office, halfway to Las Vegas! It will take a good hour to drive out there. When this new itchy/hurty thing appeared, I called and asked if we should accelerate that appointment. She said she’d squeeze me in this afternoon. But no, not at the office I’m used to going to, which at least is right off the freeway, but at the halfway-to-Vegas office, which entails trudging mile after mile after mile after ENDLESS mile across Bell Road, through some of the most congested parts of the West Valley. If that weren’t enough, this morning I found another of the precancerous pits on my back.

It hurts to drive the car with this damn back pain. To reach the pedals & the steering wheel, I have to sit with my knees elevated above my hips, which as far as I can tell is the single most uncomfortable position to assume when your back is ripped up. So believe me: I’m not looking forward to two hours of that.

Then PayPal is demanding a series of actions or else they’ll close the bidness account. Tina and I haven’t used the thing since last October, so we decided to just let it go, since I haven’t seen any action from China since last October and she hasn’t extracted any work of her own. So of course, the instant that decision is made, in come 18 typest pages of abstruse math whose author wishes to have it turned into impeccable English. Great.

So I try to open a new PayPal account with a different email. PayPal jams. I can’t open a new account, apparently. And they demand that I link a credit card or debit card with it. NOT a freaking chance on God’s Green Earth! Almost all the most egregious complaints about PayPal entail PP reaching out and charging a user’s credit card — no appeal, fuckyouverymuch — and so you absolutely positively do NOT want a credit card “linked” with that outfit. In fact, I don’t think I want to do business with PayPal at all.

Sooo…on the way back from traipsing halfway to Las Vegas, I’ll have to make a detour to visit the credit union (assuming I can get there before it closes) and ask for advice on alternatives to PayPal.

WonderAccountant says she uses a Wells Fargo account so as to have access to a SWIFT number — the credit union is too small to have such a thing. This, she advises, would facilitate at least some funds transfers. However, where Wells Fargo is concerned: been there, done that, don’t wanna do that again. Nor do I want to do business with any large bank, because I have no desire to pay them so they can have my deposits to invest.

Western Union does business in China, but I think that would inflict an undue nuisance on my clients…to say nothing of “on me”: you have to find and traipse to a Western Union office to collect your money, then traipse to the credit union to deposit it. Wayyy more trouble than it’s worth; wayyyy more opportunity for fuck-up than I want to enjoy.


So I drive and drive and drive and drive and drive and drive. Leave at 1:12, walk in the doctor’s door at 2:04.

And…well…the little burg of Surprise now really is a surprise.

When I first came here and lived, off and on, with my parents in the original build-out of Sun City, Surprise was a raggedy wide spot in the road on the way to California. It wasn’t a town, exactly; it was a settlement for farm laborers. There was, in a word, nothin’ there but workin’ folks who didn’t speak English.

Now? It’s a vast carpet of late-model sprawl. Mile on mile after mile on mile of look-alike stick-and-styrofoam houses and mile on mile of look-alike strip shopping centers filled with clone restaurants and stores. Southern California on steroids.

Inside the office: A uniracial clientele. Three notably white patients wander out from back offices into the waiting room as I’m sitting here. They check out. One of them, at least, is fairly affluent: the receptionist tries to book an appointment six months hence – August – and he says nooo way, he’ll be up north out of the heat all summer.

Uh huh.

But…the houses are of later vintage, not pushing 50 years old, as my aluminum-wired shaque is. They’re all well maintained – grâce à the ubiquitous HOAs that have been inflicted on homebuyers here for lo! these many years.

It occurs to me to wonder what the crime rate is, out in those parts.

Not freaking bad, apparently: per 100,000 residents, a mere 89 violent crimes per annum, compared to 508 in lovely Arizona and 383 nationwide. Burglary: 168.5 (how do you get half a burglary? Catch the poor little perp in the act and chase him off?), vs. Arizona’s 536.3 and the nation’s 434.4 (4/10 of a burglary? Really? Picture it: Yes, officer, I was trying to burgle this shack, but just LOOK at the damn place! There’s nothin’ here to steal!) Vehicle theft: 129.3 vs Arizona’s 271.6.

That latter is probably explained by the fact that for several decades no one built enclosed garages: with no snow, all that was required was a shade structure. Believe it or not, once upon a time (oh! so folkloric!) Arizona was a fairly safe place to live. So vehicles in older neighborhoods are more vulnerable to break-in and theft than those parked inside the garages that have become standard in newer parts of town.


Despite the extreme whiteyness (which I find a bit disturbing) and the dreary sameness of the strip shopping malls that line the main drags, I wonder: should I consider moving here? Would it be better not to have to live behind hardened locks, not to listen to the merry buzz of ghetto birds overhead day and night?



I think probably not. All the tidy elbow-to-elbow-to-elbow houses look the same. Inside and out. And something there is about elevated ceilings that exist for no other reason than to trick the eye – to make the occupant feel the dinky rooms are bigger than they are. Something there is about all-electric kitchens with hateful glass stovetops. Something there is about “plant shelves” that exist to break the boredom of the fake high ceilings and openings that evade having to use so much drywall. Something there is about noisy, ugly vertical blinds. Something there is about a solid gravel unlandscaped backyard and a dinky little nook that’s supposed to pass for a patio, ten feet from the wall between your house and the neighbor’s… Something there is that gives me the creeps. I hate that kind of design and building. Just can’t stand it.

No wonder the’hood is gentrifying. No wonder some fix-and-flipper figures he can get 750 grand for his latest 2700-square-foot-magnum opus, despite the bums and the commerce desert and the crime rate and the idiotic lightrail and the Section 8 apartments across the main drag. He probably can.

Jeez. The thing isn’t even in Lower Richistan.

At the credit union? The manager doesn’t know what alternative we might have to PayPal. He allows that he doesn’t like PayPal, thinks they’re none too ethical, and has the impression that of late they’ve been getting worse. He says he’ll have someone from the cash flow department call. Well. I don’t expect to hear from them.

My sense about this is that we’re probably going to have to deep-six the Chinese phase of The Copyeditor’s Desk. And since most of our custom now comes from China, that will mean, most likely, closing the business altogether.

Too bad. But frankly…even adjunct teaching would replace its income. With a lot more aggravation, of course. I should probably look for part-time work at Costco…

Monks, Bums, and Pee Pads: Why I Love the Walmart

Yes. If there was ever any question whether Funny is politically incorrect (really??), let it be forever dispelled: I love the Walmart in our neighborhood.


Well, in the first place, it’s the only grocery store within about an eight-mile radius where I feel safe getting out of  the car in the parking lot. This is because unlike the Safeway or the Albertson’s or the Walgreen’s or the Sprouts, they hire a security guard service. Actually, staffers at my favorite coffee house, right across the asphalt from the Walmart, say the shopping center hires the service, apparently grâce à a kind of protection racket (don’t ask: I can’t prove it; it’s just a rumor). When you don’t see an armed guard ambulating around the property, you see a massive male Walmart employee lurking out in front, allegedly wrangling the shopping carts but in fact transparently keeping an eye out for shenanigans.

Never once have I been harassed in that parking lot, which fronts right on Gangbanger’s Way. I’ve been harassed at the Safeway (which serves a very fancy part of North Central). I’ve been harassed at the Walgreen’s across from the Safeway and at the Walgreen’s in my neighborhood. I’ve been harassed at the Albertson’s in my neighborhood — indeed, chased around the parking lot at a run. I’ve been harassed at the Sprouts across the street from that Albertson’s. So annoying is this that I will cheerfully (well…grudgingly) drive through 20 miles of homicidal traffic to get free of it. Or…oh, indeed: or shop at the nearby Walmart.

The much-abused (so we’re told) staff at the Walmart are always nice to you. I’ve never met an employee there who wasn’t polite, kind, and helpful. And, as a lagniappe, nary a one of them is stupid as a post.

If they don’t know where something is (they usually do), they’ll try to find out. This is not invariably true at those other fine emporia: I no longer buy meat from the Safeway’s meat counter because one of their butchers was so rude to me. I’ve had clerks at the Whole Foods recognize at a glance that I decidedly did not belong there. At the Albertson’s…well, good luck finding an employee: they’re like Seldom Seen Smith. The staff (when you can find one) at the Paradise Valley Fry’s are very nice, but their efforts are negated by the Maserati-driving customers, who recognize poor white trash when they see it. 😀 Ditto the clientele at the Whole Foods, which since Amazon’s takeover sports even fewer hired help than the Albertson’s. But at the Walmart? No one at the Walmart treats you as though you don’t belong there, even when they are visibly tired, stressed, and overworked.

Which brings us to another small truth: Walmart people are my people.

That’s right. The customers behave as though they were decent human beings, even when they’re dressed in rags and buying their groceries with today’s equivalent of food stamps. I love Walmart people.

  • The tired-looking hard-working laborers who show up late in the afternoon
  • The Mexican mothers with their beautiful, sweetly behaved babes and toddlers, the mothers who speak Spanish with the cashiers, no doubt hired for the purpose
  • The disabled welfare recipients who stand patiently, endlessly in the line at the pharmacy (when the pharmacy’s open) and jump through hoops to get the care they need
  • The old people who amble around the store, searching for the best prices
  • The Black women, sharp and quick-looking, who no doubt also search for the best prices…but a great deal less obviously
  • The locals who act as though they were in a small-town corner grocery and will strike up a neighborly conversation with you at the drop of a hat
  • The hungry-looking, weary vagrants, also negotiating a purchase or two on “nutrition assistance”

They’ll all talk with you, genially enough, as though you were at a small-town corner grocery. Who knows? Maybe you are. Maybe Walmart is actually a port to the Twilight Zone.

I love these people because there’s a decency to them that you don’t find in the overpriced Fry’s or the Amazonized Whole Foods or the self-righteous Sprouts. No: they’re no more decent than you or I or Ms. Gotrocks. But they don’t hide what decency they have behind an elitist façade.

Today I rolled toward the checkout stand and found, ahead in the closest line, a clear and present homeless dude. Being old, single, and jaded, I tend to be wary of single homeless males. They can be all right. Or they can be…well, in need of medication. So….I roll into a longer line behind a youngish guy who appears to be, shall we say, mildly disabled intellectually. He’s clean, he looks honest, and I know I’m smarter and faster than he is, and so he’s my choice of fellow shoppers. Behind me: two other homeless or near-homeless guys, one of them hauling an oxygen tank. They’re clean enough and quiet. We wait until the cows come home while the cashier checks out the guy in front of the intellectually questionable guy. Then we wait some more because he has a sh!tload of stuff. In passing I think about asking the two homeless-looking dudes if they’d like to get in front of me but think better of it because they also have a basketful and I only have three things.

One of the guys ambles over to the machine that dispenses lottery tickets and shoves some change in there. The pot is $245 million. Silently I send a petition heavenward: Goddess! Hey, Goddess? Yeah, you, Ma’am. Please give this guy 245 million bucks. She refrains from emitting a reply at that moment.

But if you hear that some poor scruffy-looking fella in Phoenix won $245,000,000, you’ll know where that came from. 😉

To our right, another show is going on. We regulars who are in the know happen to know that the customer service desk will check you out, just like any of the check-out stand. Most people don’t do that, even though we’re aware of it, because it’s kind of rude to occupy the customer service lady with routine cashiering when there are people who really do need some special attention. But because it’s busy, a half-a-dozen shoppers are stacked up there, too.

Among them is a guy in a dress.


No: he’s a monk! A real monk. He’s wearing gray Franciscan robes and he has a beautiful crucifix around his neck and…by heaven, he’s the handsomest man you have ever seen in your life. Born 40 years too late and about 90 degrees too religious. But…gorgeous. And he exudes a kind of radiance. This is a man who is deeply happy, so it seems: presumably in his vocation.,

Happy New Year to ye, brother. And many happy more.

Wanna know a little secret? You’re not gonna see that guy at the Whole Foods…

Moving on… The reason I had to make a run on the Walmart was that I ran out of doggy pee pads. Poor little Cassie is really sick (again, still). And as you know, whatever little needs or emergencies that need to be attended to always occur on a major holiday. Wasn’t sure the store would be open today, but was very pleased to discover it was doing business.

Cassie has been going through four or five pee pads a day, between pissing on them (or missing them and puddling up the floor) and shitting on them. This is turning into a bit of a nightmare. Yesterday after cleaning up, cleaning up, and cleaning up again, I realized that I did not have enough paper sponge pads to last another 24 hours. And this, m’dears, presented a major problem. If it turned out that the Walmart was closed today — as any retailer that treats its employees decently would be — then the dogs and I were going to have an Issue.

What on earth was I going to do if the Walmart was closed? Really: THE last thing on this earth I felt like doing was running around the city searching for pee pads. Wheeeee!

But thank God Walmart treats its employees like slaves and yes, they were indeed impressed into service on New Year’s Day.

Last night was the usual seven kinds of Hell presented by New Year’s Eve in the ’Hood. Offered the opportunity to buy any kind of fireworks they like, folks rich and poor will do exactly that, and spend half the night blasting away with those and with their cannons.

The locals start shooting off fireworks and guns about 11:30. This goes on until they run out, around 1 a.m. The idiots out in the alley, right behind the house, are blasting away…but that’s alright because the racket is going on for miles around. At least it’s raining, cutting the fire risk out there. Gerardo sprayed the weeds behind my knucklehead neighbor’s house, but he didn’t cut them down, so there’s a swath of dried-out dead grass and brush out there. I’d hoped the rain might keep the ninnies inside in front of their televisions…but ohhhh no!

The racket scares the bedoodles out of Ruby, so there’s no chance of diving under the pillow and trying to sleep. She paces around anxiously, threatening to jump off the bed. Said sack has one of those stupid double-thick mattresses…I didn’t realize how ridiculous it was until they delivered it, at which point is was too late to do anything about that bad choice. It’s so high that if she jumps off, she will hurt herself, and then I’ll get to drive through the dark and the rain, dodging bullets, to take her to an emergency vet.

Time passes. Eventually she settles down.

3:30 a.m.: Dog pacing awakens the human. I imagine it’s Ruby, probably hearing another round of ordnance going off — the drunks don’t stop just because midnight happened three and a half hours ago.

“Go to sleep!” I growl. Dog pacing continues. Get up. Turn on the light.

It’s not Ruby, it’s Cassie, experiencing an embarrassing urgency. Lift her off the bed. Set her on a pee mat, hoping she’ll go there because it’s freaking cold and wet outside. While I search for my shoes, she squats on the pee mat and goes PHPHBHPPHFFFPPTTTT…. Doggie effing diarrhea. Then she waddles off the end of the pee mat and goes PHPHBHPPHFFFPPTTTT some more: all over the tiles.

Well, I should be glad that it is tilework and not damn carpet. And not on the bed. But I’m not THAT glad. I lose my temper. Swear the dog is going to have to go: I cannot be on my hands and knees scrubbing floors with disinfectant four, five, six times a day, 24 hours a day. This is no longer a viable arrangement.

Get another pee mat — running out, and I expect the Walmart will be closed tomorrow. Toss it on the floor.

She immediately waddles over and pisses all over it.

Get another pee mat. Tear it whilst shaking it open. To$$ that in the garbage.

Get out another one — now there’s only one or two left, and I’ve been putting down four or five a day. There are three on the bed, which I can take off and lay on the floor. That means both dogs will have to sleep on the floor tonight, which means they’ll be banging against the bed all night long. What the hell. I haven’t had a full night’s sleep since Cassie got sick, along about the first of September. So it doesn’t much matter.

The damn burns on my wrist itch like fire, as does the rash. One of these burns is going to leave a perfectly hideous scar. On the positive side, the rash is going away, so I guess it must not be MRSA. That’s something. I guess.

Another blast of ordnance goes off — now almost 4 a.m. Sounds more like a shotgun than a cherry bomb. But the stuff they sell in the Albertson’s and Home Depot parking lots at this time of year really does sound like…artillery fire.

Ruby, terrorized again, tries to jump off the bed. Get up, lift the dog down to the floor, search for shoes so as to take that dog outside. No: by the time I find my shoes, she’s hiding behind the toilet. Call her: she stays put. I lose my temper.

Go in the other bathroom in search of lidocaine to smear some on the frantic itching.

Well, no…that stuff I squished out onto my arm is sun block. F***!!! Scrub off the wound and rashes. Apply lidocaine.

Dog comes out. Call her to let her out in the yard. She dives back under the toilet.

Well. Who can blame her? The human is visibly NOT a happy camper… and the bedroom now stinks enough to gag a skunk.

Speaking of the knucklehead, those two acquired another dog, apparently as a Christmas present. It’s a yapper. So now they put this animal out in their backyard and it stands there and BARKS. And barks and barks and barks and barks….  This causes their other dog to start yapping. Cassie is too sick to bark back…but Ruby isn’t. When she hears that mutt barking, she runs out there and joins the chorus.

Aw, geeez!

4:45 a.m.: A Hell’s Angel flies by on Gangbanger’s Way. DUDE! Get a muffler on that damn thing!

What the heck. The guy’s prob’ly so high on meth and booze he can’t hear it. Or couldn’t, if he weren’t already stone deaf. Or…heh…stoned deaf. 😀

Happy 2019 from Beautiful Uptown Phoenix!


Walmart Store: WhisperToMe [CC0], from Wikimedia Commons
Monks: By Francisofmconv – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,




Singed and Frozen

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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