Coffee heat rising

Lost in Darkest Scottsdale

Day before yesterday I had an entertaining (sorta) adventure in Valley street navigation. It actually was pretty interesting…and amazing.

Traipsed out to the Mayo, which is on the far eastern border of Scottsdale, halfway to Payson from here. Driving back, I decided to circumvent the unholy construction on Shea (or whatever the mess is: hard to tell why they’ve got the road blocked for mile after mile) by heading north on Frank Lloyd Wright and then cruising west on another main drag.

Well…this took me, shall we say, far afield. Ended up in north Scottsdale, in the general direction of where my friends Barbara and Larry used to live while Barbara and I were in graduate school. They rented a studio that was part of a big ole’ million-dollar house in what was then the fringe of Scottsdale up against some local hills.

What was then is NOT what is now. :-D.

That place…it defies description. A once-quiet enclave for the Wealthy in the Know is now a suburb that goes on and on and on and ON. It’s got vast spreads of apartment buildings. Miles and miles of tile-roofed stick-and-Styrofoam suburban HOAs. Dizzying clusters of commerce. It spreads way, WAY north, oozes around the little “mountains,” and saturates the land as far as you can see.

It was overcast, preparatory to yesterday’s rain, and the sky was so gray I couldn’t see where the sun was and so, having been turned and turned and turned, could NOT for the life of me figure out which way was north. Or which way I needed to turn to get out of the damned maze.

What a mess!

And what a shame. It was such a pretty place. Now…well, as ugly Southern-California style suburbs go, it’s not too bad. Comparable, I’d say, to some of the less annoying parts of Orange County. But as a place to live? Unless you’re into beehive-dwelling: ugh

This is why, if my son didn’t object so vociferously, I would move to Prescott in an instant. Or Patagonia. Or Oro Valley. Any place but here.

It’s funny how you tend to identify people with the places they live. Or lived. I think of Barbara as Scottsdale. I think of Larry as Phoenix.

Barbara, because after she unloaded Larry and married his Coast Guard shipmate, she ended up (by amazing serendipity) in far east Scottsdale, and that’s where she lived until she and the new guy moved to Seattle. Larry’s parents lived out their lives at a house in a North Central Phoenix neighborhood not far from where DXH and I lived. and despite his lengthy marriage to Barbara and the many places where they dwelt, I connect him with the parental manse.

Larry and Barbara had rented a studio that was appended to a lovely old adobe mansion (REAL adobe) in Scottsdale, and it was a beautiful place. Had about a half-acre back yard, with a view to the north that stretched all the way across the desert to the mountains. At one point, he proposed to us and the other couple in our threesome that we should band together and buy that house. DXH was averse: thought that was a losing idea.

But…Larry was right. Those houses are now going for prices in excess of (hang onto your hat!) SIX MILLION DOLLARS.

It would have taken half our adult lives to cash in…but if we’d bought that place and just sat tight, we would have cleaned up by now.

Real Estate: California Territory

So SDXB and I went over to the hillside neighborhood I “discovered” below the hiking trails at North Mountain. The trails themselves have become counterproductive for exercise walks, partly because they’re so damn crowded — especially with morons charging past you huffing and puffing their germs into your face — and partly because it’s just not that safe to take Ruby the Corgi up there. Same reason: morons (they bring their own out-of-control dogs), plus rattlesnakes, cactus thorns, and sharp rocks.

“Discover” isn’t exactly the term for it, because we both have had friends who lived in that neighborhood, over the years. But the two things I found of interest were a) the paved (!!) sidewalks and roads that curve up and down and around and b) the houses that look like they were constructed by the same builder who installed the houses here in the ’Hood. SDXB agreed that they were alarmingly like our places…and also that the relative quiet of the neighborhood was striking, as was the absence of derelicts and other sketchy types.

Basically, the houses are much the same as the ones here, only in a safer, quieter area. With nice gentle grades to walk Ruby (and me) on. And of course a steep mountain trail out back, for the purpose of getting some serious exercise.

So when I got back I googled real estate in that zip code. HOLY maquerel! In the first place, nothing’s for sale in there just now., In the second place, Zestimated prices for houses similar to ours are breathtaking! Here’s a shack for sale just to the west of the neighborhood, certainly not a better area and arguably not as desirable:  YIPES!

Okay okay, 5 bedrooms IS a little much.

But almost 700 grand for a tract house that faces on Thunderbird Road, one of the Valley’s mainest of main drags and a major commuter road???  Give…me…a…BREAK!  (aaanndd…btw, how happy ARE you that you don’t have to clean those shiny marble floors?) And the pool where passing golfers can peer at you as you’re splashing around or enjoying a cocktail at poolside — no skinny-dipping for the likes of you!

So I go to look up prices here in the ’Hood…could I make an even trade, more or less?

Zillow thinks my house is worth a measly $565,600 grand. Redfin puts it at $606,699. Either estimate is a far cry from the $235,000 I paid for this place in 2004, or the $100,000 for the identical model I first bought here, about three houses in from the horrible Conduit of Blight Blvd.

We have arrived in California territory, price-wise. How on earth do young people ever get in the door of a real house (not an apartment, not a condo)? One semester I had a student who, with her husband and two small kids, lived a ways to the west of that North Mountain tract. Their tract was what I’d call working-class construction — I had occasion to see it when we had a major storm that blew the roof off the house, and the young people needed some help until such time as one or the other set of parents could get into town. Just the most standard, cheaply built stucco-and-styrofoam stuff — their place was largely trashed by the storm, and some of the other houses there were even worse off. The prices over there are now similar: $600,000+++ for tiny little tract houses! I can’t even imagine how a young couple would come up with that kind of money, even with both of them working full-time.

Soooo…. It looks like we bought my son’s house more or less in the nick of time. If, as he prefers, I live in this house until I croak over, he’ll inherit a paid-off shack that right now is worth 600 grand but in another ten to fifteen years will presumably be pushing a million bucks. His house is worth about $500,000 now (sez Redfin). If he inherits this paid-off house, he could…well…think about it! He could…

  • Move here and sell his house, netting around a half-million dollars
  • Move here and rent his house, providing a moderately steady second income
  • Stay in his place and sell my place, netting around 600 or 700 grand, put the money in his retirement fund, and knock off working early
  • Stay in his place and rent this place for some truly outrageous amount of money
  • Sell both houses and move to rural southeastern Utah or southwestern Colorado, one of his daydreams
  • Sell them both and move overseas, where (depending on his choice) he could live like a king and never work again
  • Or of course just keep on keepin’ on, holding his job and collecting a decent salary until he reaches retirement age and then moving to the South of France on the proceeds of both houses, his retirement fund, and my retirement fund. 😀

Financially, it would give him a lot of choices.

Probably the most advantageous strategy for him (and maybe for me, too), would be for me to stay in this house until they carry me out feet-first. It’s a nice neighborhood with pleasant neighbors…its only drawbacks are the startling crime and vagrancy rates and the noise from the main drags and the constant cop helicopter buzz-overs. But both of those come under the heading of Life in the Big City.


Well, now we know I’m not the ONLY one in these parts who’s confused. Just opened a bill from American Express, demanding $2769 and change. ASAP, a substantial part of it being past due.


I know I paid last month’s bill, which amounted to some $1877.

Everything being haywire after the theft of all my credit and ID cards, I paid AMEX with a check. On February 2. It must not have cleared by the time they sent this bill. Evidently not: in an obscure corner they grouse about not receiving last month’s contributionm to their vast wealth.

A-a-a-n-d here on the credit union’s website I find an “external withdrawal” dated February 28, in the amount of $1877. Can’t see a check that cleared for that amount, so I assume these are somehow magically the same transaction. I hope.

My, but life in the 21st century is tiresome! One could even say, at some moments, that it’s…heh! for the birds.

Yea verily: this afternoon I needed to get a bag of birdseed. With Instacart defunct — it won’t accept my new credit card! — Costco is no longer an option for that purchase: I can’t haul a 50-pound bag from the car to the backyard seed bin by myself.

Passed an interesting-looking crime scene in the stick-and-styrofoam tracts along the way: a cluster of cops and cop cars descending on an alley behind a couple of homes. And HOLY mackerel, I just missed this. I was there right about at that time of day. Ahh, lovely Phoenix!

To the northwest of the ’Hood lies a moribund shopping center. In fact, the mall itself — once the largest enclosed shopping mall in the land — has been shut down for months. But the shops located outside the gigantic main mall building, scattered around acres of asphalt, are still open. One of these is a large Petco.

Surprised to see it was still in business, I veered off the main drag, darted into the parking lot, and scored a spot right in front. Not a good portent, as it developed.

Inside the store, there were two (count’em, 2) customers: me and some guy. Found the birdseed and tossed a couple of bags into the cart. Rolled through the empty checkout line, trudged across the parking lot, plopped them into the Dog Chariot, and proceeded home.

When I hauled them back to the seed bin and cut a bag open, I saw there was a reason that store has effectively zero clientele.  The damn birdseed is covered with dust. Dump it in the bin, and a cloud of dust flies up into your face!

Apparently it doesn’t taste very good either, not to the avian palate. The birds are barely touching it.

So today or tomorrow I suppose I’ll have to traipse over to the neighborhood Walmart and buy two or three bags of seed there. Then come back here, dump the remainder of this stuff in the alley, refill the bin and feeders.

Is there some reason why EVERYTHING has to be frikkin’ impossibly difficult or annoying? I mean…birdseed? You can’t buy a decent bag of BIRDSEED???????  In a PET STORE???

Who knew there were levels of quality in birdseed, anyway?

Yesterday afternoon I did at least make it to the Costco — which is why I was over on that side of town. And was reminded of WHY I liked Instacart so much.


I’ve come to hate shopping in Costco. People lose all contact with their minds when they go into that place. They roam around gazing entranced at the warehouse-ceiling-high piles and piles and PILES of goodies and don’t even notice that there are other people around them. Dazed, they amble up the middle of the wide aisle, so you can’t get around them on either side. Their kids scream and they don’t even hear the little darlings’ plaintive wails. And whoever and wherever they are, they’ve gotta get there first!

While I was trying to find some boned chicken thighs to make dog food for Ruby (the stuff I get at AJ’s is now deservedly kaput: not buyin’ that again!), someone rolled off with my cart.

Yeah: GONE. All the stuff I’d accrued while walking around the 3.35-acre store was disappeared.

I was so disgusted, I just walked out. Screw it…who needs ambience like that when there’s a Sprouts up the road and a Walmart around the corner?

Yes: chicken… Costco’s butchers insist there’s a chicken shortage and they can’t get boned chicken thighs.

Huh! Who’d’ve thunk it? There were armloads of chicken thighs at the Sprouts. This is the second time they’ve made the same excuse…heard it the last time I was there a couple weeks ago.

So I dunno what’s going on in that department, but whenever I get off my duff and run by the Walmart to pick up some quality (!!!????!!!) birdseed, I’ll check the butcher counter and see if they’re devoid of chicken thighs, too. Apparently there has been a kind of desultory shortage…

Meanwhile, speaking of folks living with shortages and overall disasters, what a MESS in Ukraine, eh?  I have a friend who’s Ukrainian. Guy was a competitive weight-lifter for years…last I heard, he was still lifting weights even in his dotage. He’s an interesting fellow…kinda strange, with a view of life that’s rather different from the standard American’s.

I do hope we’re not looking at another Vietnam or Afghanistan there…or worse: another world war. Engaging battle with Russia (if that’s what we end up doing) is a whole ’nother matter than taking on a brush-fire squabble in a Third-World country. With any luck, the whole fiasco will backfire on Putin. Still…how lucky we were to block him from installing his chum in the White House for a second term! The situation would be entirely different if that had happened…and, IMHO, far more horrifying than it is.

Reading between the lines, it looks ominously like Putin himself has lost a few of his marbles. He doesn’t appear to be thinking or acting rationally. Evidently he’s as crazy as Hitler. Or more so. lf my guess is right and Putin actually is irrational…well…better have that survival gear up to date.

Life in Lovely Uptown Phoenix…

This has been One of Those Day…y’know: when everything you touch goes s-p-r-o-o-o-i-i-n-n-g!!! But wth: with caveats.

Cleaning-lady day, bless her. She always makes me feel like a crotchety crank when I think reallleeee…i vant to be aloooone! The house isn’t too dirty (because I haven’t moved around for a good week or ten days), and as usual she’s getting it so sparkling clean it will glow in the dark. So that’s good.

Off to T-Mobile to continue the Project (and we DO mean with a Capital P) of trying to figure out how to work the iPhone my son gave me and refused to teach me to use. One of my choir friends is going to give me lessons when we meet for receptionist duty on Thursday. So by the time I see her, it should be fully functional.

I have fallen so far behind the times with this thing. The truth is…i do not WANT people to be able to reach me wherever i am…i do not WANT to chat with friends, clients, and telemarketers while I’m out and about…i do not NEED a phone to tell me where to turn left and where to turn right…and i have SOOOO HAD IT with the unceasing avalanche of technohassle that is Life in These Newnited States! gaaahhhhh!!!! But there’s no avoiding it. So I’m trying to climb onto the receding back end of the techno-haywagon.

From there up to Young Dr. Kildare’s office to explain that for reasons unknown I can NOT get into their annoying portal. His techno-lady says she fixed that.

We’ll see….

Sunnyslope rock garden, one of the many eccentric sights

Back here via a visit to the gas station at 7th Street & the canal, embellished with a cruise through lovely Sunnyslope. Actually, I found a neighborhood that IS rather lovely.

This has become one of my casual hobbies…I love to drive around neighborhoods in this city! Which is one reason I thought I might be good at real estate: a new career in my dotage.

Historically speaking, Sunnyslope is an extremely interesting little burg. It’s always brushed off as “where all the people who came here with TB lived.” Hm. Maybe not so much.

From what I can tell, it had a very diverse working and lower-middle-class population, right from the git-go. It also had some (fairly eccentric) upscale folks, plus a passle of artistes.

By the early 20th century, what we know as “North Central” was largely citrus groves, pasture, and farmland. I can remember, in the late 60s, driving in from my parents’ house in Sun City to go to work downtown. I’d come in across Thunderbird, Dunlap, Peoria, or Northern, driving through mile after mile after mile of agricultural land. Really rather few citrus trees…but more cotton and corn and lettuce and onions and broccoli that you can imagine. Now all that land is growing houses.

So Sunnyslope would have been on the border between that farmland and the outer border of Phoenix…laid out along — surprise! the canal.

What else, hm?

Apparently, a fair amount of the housing in Sunnyslope was buiilt for farm workers. And a lot of that is still standing: two and three-bedroom bungalows on surprisingly HUGE lots. A lot of these appear along the canal, on both sides but especially on the south side. Today they strike one as exceptionally cute little places, perfect for a couple or small family — or a single person who doesn’t want to live in an apartment.

Gas pumped. Really feeling terrible, with ears SO congested that it’s giving me vertigo. So YDK believes, anyway: allergies, he theorizes. Right, Doc. Like I’ve never had allergies before? Hmmm… Contemplate the possibility of renting an apartment or cabin somewhere on the Rim for a week or two, just to see if getting out of the Valley Haze clears up the head. Then decide that’s more trouble than it’s worth.

Across Feeder Street E-W toward the ‘Hood, having opted a Walmart junket. Drop by the Funny Farm, where Luz is working her butt off, to grab my metal wallet thing of credit cards, which I’d forgotten. Pass a fairly alarming-looking bum sauntering along the sidewalk in front of the house. He’s over on Carol’s side, but still…right out front. Unlike most of the park bums, he’s young — or at least, not so road-worn that he looks older than Methuselah. He has a bright turquoise blanket slung over a shoulder, and he’s stalking right along, probably on the way to the park, no doubt having been left off on Blight by the accursed lightrail. Or chased off the lightrail, if a cop found him at the Conduit of Blight & Feeder Street stop. Remind Luz to keep the screen door as well as the regular front door locked…she does not need reminding.

Down at the T-Mobile, there to ask them if they can arrange to have the bills auto-paid through the credit union. The adorable T-Mobile Dude does me one better: gets it charged to AMEX, whereinat I will snare a percentage kick-back for each month’s bill.

Luz is about done. Taking the trash out, she asks if it’s OK if she can have some of the fruit from the trees. Of course I say “sure.” Most people don’t use the fruit that grows on backyard citrus trees — once again, I”m some kinda fluke. It would sound mighty chintzy of me to ask her not to take whatever she wants. {sigh} Oh well…my life won’t end, and she deserves them.

She’s on her way to Carol’s house, across the street. She’s parked her car in front of my house with the rear end jutting over my driveway, so I won’t be able to get my car into the garage until she leaves, another three or four hours.

Drat! 😀

Well, having consumed a glass of wine without food, now i can’t hold my eyes open. Sooo…off to bed for a nap!

For Nothing Happening…

…an awful lot has been going on!

By and large “awful” is the operative term. As in “whatever can go wrong WILL go wrong…”

The past few days the smog here has been SO thick that it rivals the filthy air we had when I was [not] enjoying high school in California’s lovely Long Beach (known by one of my ex-boyfriends as “the armpit of the West Coast”). What a dump that place was! And by God, Phoenix works hard to outpace the place in the Department of Bad Air. By mid-day yesterday, a gaze three blocks down a neighborhood street felt like you were peering through fog. South Mountain was blurry through the haze.  North Mountain and Shaw Butte — I could walk to Shaw Butte from the Funny Farm — were greyed out.

The smog and the crime and the lower-rung cultural life were the reasons I was very glad when my mother wrangled me into the University of Arizona at the end of my high-school junior year, so that my father could retire early and they could move us  to Arizona, where at least the air was clean.

“Was” is the operative term. Nowadays, the air here is, most of the time, Southern California redux. Which is another way of saying “so filthy you can’t see through it and breathing it makes you sick.”

And this new gray-brown incarnation of Arizona’s formerly blue skies has done exactly that: made me good and sick. Again. My ears are so clogged I can barely hear. My nose is so stuffed I have to squirt toxic fluids up there to inhale and exhale. I’m gulping a pile of effin’ pills every goddamn day, just to breathe and to be able to sorta think clearly.

“Sorta” is the operative term. My brain — quite possibly because it’s pickled in toxic chemicals — has about quit functioning. I couldn’t remember my name if it weren’t written down on my driver’s license. Which of course requires me to remember where the driver’s license is, a very iffy proposition.

Yesterday, on Young Dr. Kildare’s advice (he’s b-a-a-c-k! Hooorayyy!), I bought a bottle of Flonase nose squirt, which he claims lacks the kickback effect of nose squirts that work, such as Afrin. (If you haven’t been fortunate enough to have to stick a bottle up your schnozz and squirt decongestant in there, Afrin does indeed clear your head quickly and effectively…but then it irritates the membranes so you get a fierce kickback that clogs you up as bad as or worse than you were clogged to start with. He says Flonase doesn’t do that.

He also wants me to drop a Claritin every few hours.

So I picked up a bottle of Flonase on the way from his office to the credit union (ohhh gawd! more of the tale attaches to that!), and yes! Yes indeedies, it does work. While there, I grabbed a packet of Claritin, too.

This morning I woke up with a pretty clear head, but after I’d been running around the ranch for an hour feeding and wringing out the dog, feeding myself, reading the gnus, and banging around, the sinuses needed attention again. So it was off to the bedroom to snab the Flonase off the nightstand, where…where…noooooo….I had NOT set it down there last night.


  • Not in the drawer.
  • Not knocked on the floor, into the trash, or under the bed.
  • Not in either bathroom.
  • Not in the medicine cabinets.
  • Not in the hall closet where an entire shelf is dedicated to hordes of pill bottles, cough medicines, prescription creams, on and freakin’ on…
  • Not in my office.
  • Not in the kitchen daily-pill cabinet.
  • Not on the kitchen counters.
  • Not on the dining-room table.
  • Not on the table next to my favorite easy chair.
  • Not under the table or the chair or the ottoman.
  • Not in the car.
  • Not in the garage.
  • Not in the storage bedroom.
  • Not in any of the trash cans.
  • Not…fukkk! I give up!!!!!


So now at this point I figure I’ll have to schlep out and buy more Flonase, which ain’t cheap (paid 16 bucks for it at the Walgreen’s.).


So, so happy to reconnect with the beloved Young Dr. Kildare. So, so wish he would hire competent office help.

When I showed up for our first appointment, the receptionist demanded that I pony up my Medicare card.

Huh?: That’s never happened before!

“You must want my Medigap card,” say I, forking that over beneath the plastic barrier.

“No, I need your Medicare card.”

No you don’t, I refrain from saying. “I don’t carry it around with me. In fact, the material that comes with it tells you NOT to carry it in your wallet, because if it’s lost or stolen, you’re going to have to wade through a giant pile of bureaucratic hassle and grief.”

“We have to have your Medicare card.”

Now, in the 10 years since I got this ticket to bureaucratarama, no doctor’s office has EVER asked for my Medicare card. But I can’t get past this chickadee, so I leave without seeing YDK.

When I get home, I look for it and…can’t find it.

Ohhhhhh sheeee-ut!

After tossing my office once, I give up and resign myself to the fact that now I’ll have at least one and probably two or three four-hour waits up at the Social Security office trying to see a representative and get a new card.

Eventually, I do find the Medicare card in an obscure file folder, make a new appointment, and traipse back over to YDK’s.

In more quotidian gnus, we’re told the cops pledge to clean up the crime in the corridor west of the I-17, which makes it dangerous to drive between North Central and points west, and which efficiently feeds burglars, rapists, and purse-snatchers into our neighborhood. With the big, once-amazing but now out-dated shopping mall there closed down, that entire area is shooting downhill on a skateboard.

Well,  notes one of the locals on the neighborhood Facebook page…that new policing project is nice, but…but…what about the strip to the east of the flickkin’ freeway, which feeds the ‘Hood with hordes of criminal types? What about the bums imported up here on the accursed lightrail, which anyone can ride for free because there are no turnstiles to keep freeloaders off the damned trains? The end of the accursed light-rail line is right at the north border of the ‘Hood, so all the lovelies who jump onto it for free are discharged to sight-see through the local attractions. The panhandlers and the oleander-sleepers and the molesters of thee-year-olds in their backyards ride up to the end of the line, where they’re made to get off…and from there end up infesting our neighborhood.

Speaking of the which, on the way home from YDK’s office and waypoints, I turn into the ‘Hood and what do I see but yet another cop helicopter hovering over our little corner of Paradise.

No. Make that right over my house!

Holy sh!t!

Is their perp in my yard? (AGAIN?) Or, better yet, in my house?

Holy sh!t!!!!! My little dog!

Has the jerk broken in and, in an effort to get in or get out, let her escape through the door? If he left a gate open as well, she’s headed for Timbuktu! Assuming the bastard hasn’t stolen her for dog-fighting bait or kicked her senseless or shot her….

Naturally, I don’t have a pistol in the car. WHY do I keep doing that?

Cop glides off as I pull up to the driveway. Park the car in the garage. The door into the house is still locked. Dammit, I don’t even have a functional knife in the garage.

Get into the house.

Kitchen door is closed.

Call the dog.

No dog.

Grab a kitchen knife.

Call the dog.

No dog.

Head down the hallway toward the back of the house.

Front door out to the courtyard is closed. That’s nice: either he has good manners or he neither came in nor went out that way.

Call the dog.

No dog.

Check the hall coat closet please dear God don’t let some dude be hiding in here!

God obliges.

Call the dog some more. Head toward the back bathroom, where Her Majesty’s resting chamber resides. Grip that knife tighter.

One more favor, Your Godship: could you also kindly arrange for him not to be hiding in one of the bedrooms?

“Ruby!” Whistle the elaborate dog-calling tune. “Ruby-Doo!! Come, dog!”

click click click click click…
Little dog toenails on tile

Out she emerges from her nest.


Speaking some more of the nostrums Young Dr. Kildare foisted upon me: Claritin is spectacularly expensive. Walgreen’s wants $20 for a package of 30 pills — a package in which each pill is sealed invincibly and annoyingly into a sheet of plastic and tinfoil.

Hm. The active ingredient of Claritin is loratidine. Amazon is selling THREE HUNDRED pills of the stuff for $10, and delivering them practically instantaneously. They’re already here as we scribble, and guess what: one pill of the cheap stuff works just fine. In fact, maybe even better than the overpriced stuff. Most Amazon reviewers say the knock-off works just as well as the brand-name; a few complain that it’s not as good. For ten bucks, I’ll take a chance on it.

On the way home from Costco, which is on the eastern and southern fringe of an upper-middle-class White ghetto called Moon Valley, I happened to cruise through a neighborhood that I’d never visited. It’s right up against the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, only on the eastern side instead of the southern side, where Sunnyslope blights the landscape. I actually thought I would be going through a part of dankest Sunnyslope on this particular excursion — a workaround after I made a wrong turn on my normal route — but apparently…not.

Most of Sunnyslope is beleaguered working-class — tidy, small homes: older, cheaply built, but OK for people who have no choice but to dodge bullets every night; or biker-gang dominated slum; or dire barrio the likes of which you see in northern Sonora along the train tracks, poverty that most Americans can’t imagine. But this area was not like that at all. The houses were very much like the little castles here in the’Hood. In fact, I came across a street or two that looked like they probably were constructed by our builder. The place was well maintained. Pretty free of blight. Nice view of South Mountain way across the smoggy city, from a slightly elevated plateau just beside North Mountain. Interestingly, the neighborhood up there must be regarded as not-quite-Darkest-Sunnyslope. Just one house is for sale in the area: Construction is similar to mine but it’s only about 1,000 square feet: significantly smaller than the Funny Farm.

Housing prices here in Phoenix are hovering in the outer layers of the stratosphere. I paid $100,000 for my first house in the ‘Hood — same model as mine, but a block and a half closer to Conduit of Blight and a block closer to Gangbanger’s Way. Several years later, when SDXB and  I moved to get out of earshot of those colorful features, I paid $235,000 for my present house, a carbon-copy model; he paid much less than that for his (big time!) fixer-upper a block to the north of my place. More than one Realtor has told me that my house is now worth $550,000.

Can you imagine? For a little tract house less than a mile from a dire slum and two blocks from a bunch of crummy apartment buildings bordered by the noisy, (literally) bum-ridden light-rail train tracks!

For living on the “right” side of the tracks, you gain about $130,000: this little palace essentially clones mine — clearly the same model by the same builder, even has the same swimming pool in the same backyard surrounded by the same kind of block wall. For that thing, they want about $410,000. And apparently they haven’t been able to sell it: Zillow has dropped the price three times, to less than what they paid for it!

Interestingly, the little North Mountain neighborhood was crisply delineated from the direr parts of Sunnyslope by the southeastern flange of the mountain park. So, while the local burglars can easily access your home, at least you don’t have to look at them every day. Or drive through a dank slum to get home.

Anyhow, back to the crisis of the moment: no pills.

How can I count the ways that I don’t want to drive down to the relatively safe Walgreen’s — about five miles from here? The Walgreen’s in the Sprouts shopping center across Conduit of Blight from the ‘Hood has…well, recently they’ve done weird stuff to it. Maybe its franchise somehow changed hands? They’ve moved all the merchandise around, rearranged the shelving, and…as usual, the front door is graced with a gauntlet through which you would prefer not to run… This means I’ll have to drive further than I wish to drive after yesterday’s two hours of rubbing fenders with my Fellow Homicidal Drivers.

In comes an email from Bigscoots, the vendor that hosts Funny about Money, Plain & Simple Press, and the Copyeditor’s Desk’s business website. The auto-pay for the hosting bill failed to go through.

Yeah? Well, that would be because I closed the CE Desk’s bank account, because — HALLELUJAH BROTHERS AND SISTERS! — I’ve decided to get out of the technical editing biz.

Of course, by this time it’s too late to schlep across the city (AGAIN) to the credit union and figure out what to do about this new fiasco. It’ll have to wait until Monday. Between now and then, I’ll have to sift through the account’s statements and figure out what other auto-pays are in there. Not many, I think. I hope.

Bang around the house searching for the Flonase. Can’t find it. Drop a Claritin…and yes, it does help a bit. Whenever I finish scribbling here, I’ll…

a) Call up Amazon and order a BOTTLE. not a goddam plastic-and-cardboard packet of Claritin pills, and get its active ingredient in generic form ($9) instead of trademarked form ($36)

b) Study page on page of checking account statements and try to figure out how to move that Bigscoots auto-payment into personal checking

c) Communicate with Bigscoots to see if only one of my three blogs was autopaid or if all of them were. Figure out how to switch all three of them, if indeed all three were paid out of of the CE Desk account.

d) Pull out some more of my hair.

e) Give up and take the dog for a walk.

Driving in Phoenix…with God as My Copilot

Human, weaseling her way through stupendous traffic:  Good gawd!

Divinity: Yasss?

Human: Ooops! Uh-oh…

Divinity: What d’you want now?

Human: Well…uhm.,.well, Your Godship…why do you keep doing that?

Divinity: Which of the infinity of things that I keep doing have you got in mind?

Human: You know…the thing with the morons?

Divinity: Which morons?


Divinity: Well…possibly every driver on the road except thee is a moron.

Human: Your Godship! Not all of God’s Critters can be morons!

Divinity: I wouldn’t put any money on that, if I were you.

Human: Okay, okay. But…then why do all the morons in the freakin’ world stream out of their houses, leap into their cars and get in front of me every time I turn on the ignition?

Divinity: Hmmmm…..  Fate?

Human:  But Your Godship: you are Fate!

Divinity: One could argue that.

{sigh} Evidently God has it in for me.

Hopped in the jalopy along about noonish yesterday and headed down toward Sassy Glasses, La Maya’s favorite overpriced eyewear store — whose denizens have shown themselves to be a) exceptionally competent and b) well connected with other professionals in the eyeball profession. I need a referral to an exceptionally competent ophthalmologist to deal with the latest Joy of Old Age that I’ve developed.

Right away, at Main Drag South and toney Central Avenue, I come across a fender-bender. A pretty young woman has rear-ended a young man’s vehicle at the light. She is weeping. He is stalking across the intersection headed for the condos on the east side, where he evidently lives or has pals who can help out.

Should I stop and see if she is OK? Should I call 911?

No. All young people have cell phones and they all know how to call 911. No doubt the cops and the medics are en route. Best to get the Hell outta the way.

Continue toward the eastern edge of the North Central commercial district, wherein resides the glasses place. Is it…wait, wait…is it really early afternoon on a Monday? W…T…F?????? Traffic is just freakin’ FIERCE.

Finally make my way to the parking lot at the strip shopping center where Sassy Glasses resides. After a fight, get parked near the front. Hop out, saunter over to the entrance, and…find the door LOCKED.

At the risk of repeating myself, think WTF???????

Figure it must actually be Sunday, not Monday. Dayum!

Loop back toward AJ’s, there to buy tonight’s dinner and a few not-too-perishables for the upcoming Xmas chivaree with my son.

Westward/southward bound, the roads are JUST JAMMED. It’s 2:00 in the afternoon! What. The. Hell?

Get to AJ’s. Buy a few provisions. Ask the butcher if I need to reserve a pair of those gorgeous prime rib steaks to pick up right before Christmas. He says no, that’ll be OK.

Head back up North Central.

Realize I’d better bypass Central and Northern, the site of the fender-bender. Detour across a minor main drag that bisects a neighborhood flanking Central, continue past 7th, and veer north on 15th, a feeder street that feeds, all right: the Capitol district with traffic cruising in from the west side, the north side. and  dropping off the freeway.

Get up into the hood, by-passing the wrecky-poo scene. Come to the little road into my part of the’ Hood. Signal to turn left.


How DO the Morons know when I’m on the road?

A southbound moron, who has the right-of-way in neon-lit spades, STOPS and gestures the moron before me to turn left in front of him. Illegally. In spades.

My moron accommodates him.


I stop. He gestures for me to turn left, illegally, in front of him.


No, stupid, I am not going to put myself at risk by making an illegal turn in front of oncoming traffic on a sub-main drag, you damnfool MORON. I now turn right into the neighborhood flanking the’Hood, dodging the nitwit.

This of course, takes me out of his way, but it also aims me in the exact opposite of the direction I need to go, through Lower Richistan’s winding roads infested by playing children, frolicking dogs, and watchful parents. Wend my way over four blocks of irrelevant streets. By the time I arrive back at the intersection from whence I dodged the fool, said fool is gone.

Get home. Pissed.

Divine laughter emanates from the graying skies.