Standing By…but Not Standing Back

…got fruit?…

As we noted a day or so ago, the comments section at Funny isn’t working properly. Some readers may be able to post a comment in the “Reply” feed, but it won’t show on the site. Yet. It will be forwarded to me, though, meaning I can see it. But no one else can. Feel free to stay in touch! 🙂

Funny’s Web guru has located a new template that’s remarkably similar to the one we’ve been using. But he’s had to go out of town, so it’ll be awhile before the issue is fixed.

Meanwhile, life continues. Ruby the Corgi has proved her worth as a ratter. Did you know corgis are bred as ratters as well as for herding? Yes. You have never seen anything move as fast as this dog when she launches after her prey. Except, of course, for Rattie.

For some years, Phoenix has been infested by roof rats, a relatively small rat (compared to a sewer rat) that favors fruit. I think of the little pest as a kind of wingless fruit bat, actually. They’re attracted by citrus — of any kind: Rattie will happily eat the Meyer lemon outside the back door. They’re strangely charming, in a rattish way. The problem, though, is that they’re extremely destructive. They can climb straight up a block wall…and once they get into your attic, they’ll gnaw on the wiring — which can cause a fire. Get under the hood of your car, and they’ll eat the hoses and wiring. Got a washer in the garage? They’ll chew up both the wiring and the hoses! Inside your house, they’ll slip in behind the sofa, dig their way inside, and establish a nice comfy nest in the furniture, there to bring up the family.

So: needless to say, no matter how cute Rattie may be, she’s gonna hafta go.

The easiest way to dispose of these fine creatures is poison. Last time I had one as a guest, she took up residence in the garage, underneath the washer. . At that time my room-mate was a German shepherd, who was pretty easy to keep an eye on. This made it possible to lay poison bait behind the washer & dryer and keep an eye on the place until the victim croaked over in the middle of the floor.

Today, however, Rattie has staked out her territory in the backyard. First off, she built a nest under the westside deck. After I stuffed steel wool into every nook, crack, and cranny around the thing, she moved into the river rocks that line a drainage ditch across the backyard, and then built a cool tunnel along the base of the cat’s-claw hedge.The backyard is inhabited by Ruby the Corgi, and so poison is out of the question.

Wilier strategies are in order.

My son gave me a box of sticky-board traps. Problem is, Ruby got stuck in one of those at his house, and it was quite the little fukkin’ disaster. The dog almost croaked over in her terror, and to free her, we had to hack the thing out of her fur with a pair of scissors.

He also gave me a couple of cage traps. These ingenious devices have a little platform that’s connected to a delicate catch. You put the bait on this platform and when the critter lifts it up, it releases the door, trapping the critter inside.

Very clever.

Problem is, rats are very clever, too. Indeed, most likely they’re more clever than the human. Rattie has successfully evaded the glue traps. I barricaded Ruby out of the area under the tree where I placed these traps, by surrounding the tree with a wire garden-border fence — plenty of room for Rattie to get through to her favorite lemon stash, but not enough for Ruby to squeeze through.

Or so I thought.

Took her a week or so to find her way inside there. Once she was in, she panicked. Luckily I spotted her and managed to get her out before she flailed onto the glue traps…Whew!

Rattie built a nice nest in the middle of the marjoram patch. Tossed a glue trap in there. She moved on.

Next trick: try to lure her into the rat cage. First time I tried these, Rattie laughed. Noooo…not interested in your peanut butter, thankyouvery much. A cruise of the Web produced some clues: get the critters used to the traps by locking the door open and putting food in there for several days & nights, so they expect to find treats in there.

Well. This sounds good, eh? Little pieces of fruit around the entry, a few inside the little palace.

These gems looked good, too: to the resident mockingbird. He would be the critter who unearths seedlings and yanks exotic little vines out of their pots.

Adjust strategy: place the fruit out at night, after the birds have gone to roost. Keep Ruby indoors, so she doesn’t eat the fruit herself.

So now we’re on the second night of baiting the un-set trap. We shall see if Rattie can be fooled. She’s a smart little beastie, so it remains to be seen whether she can be trained to go inside the trap and munch on a bait set on the spring platform.

Too bad she’s such a nuisance and that she carries any number of noxious diseases and parasites. She’s kinda cute. In a rattish sorta way. 😉

Why am I a cranky old bat? Because…

Started the morning annoyed…possibly nothing new about that, since I have the personality of a hummingbird. (Did you know the ancient Inca thought hummers were the reincarnated souls of warriors, because of their irascibility?)

Ruby is supposed to go to the vet to get the tartar scraped off her little teeth next Monday. This appointment was made six months in advance, to my initial annoyance — I fail to see an excuse for that. But OK, no hurry, so who cares?

But now that we have the covid horror, Dr. Bracken — like all the vets in town — is requiring people to park and call from their car, and then they’ll come out and take your animal from you.

The more I think about that, the more I think…huh-UH! i ain’t a-gunna do that to my little dog. Ruby doesn’t like to ride in the car in the first place. But she’ll be absolutely terrorized if some total stranger comes up to the car and drags her out and hauls her into a place she hates. I think that’s rather a bad idea, don’t you?

So I called and said I’d like to put the dental cleaning off for another six months, by which time I hope the covid flap will have settled down. His phone lady puts me on hold with a LOUD — we might even say ear-splitting — recorded spiel, the usual bullshit from veterinarians about all the terrible things that are gonna happen to your dog or your cat if you don’t get this unnecessary test and that unncessary test and half-a-dozen unnecessary vaccines. (Interestingly, a group of scientists tested a large set of dogs starting in puppyhood to see how long the immunity from a single set of standard shots last. They had to stop after 7 years — at which time the dogs were still immune to all of the standard diseases for which they’d been vaccinated!). So this obnoxious high-volume sales pitch goes on and on and on, until I finally hang up.

So now I’m looking for some ways to clean Ruby’s teeth, not an auspicious prospect because I’ve let it go way too long. She hates to have her teeth cleaned and puts up such a fight that I finally gave up, so her back teeth are encased in tartar. Some people, however, claim that if the dog can be persuaded to chew on a heavy marrow bone or even on a rope chew toy, that will break a lot of that tartar off. I kinda doubt it but figure it won’t hurt to try. She really needs to be knocked out cold and have those teeth scraped. But…how that is going to happen in the Time of Plague escapes me.

I’m also thinking I’ll try to find another vet to do this…maybe one whose staff is capable of answering the phone.

Pool Dude lost his dog last week. The critter fell sick. He tossed the pooch in the car and shot up to the emergency vet, where…yeah, they made him wait in the parking lot until they got around to coming outside to get the dog. During that time the dog stopped breathing and died.

See, said he, that is WHY I came up to an emergency veterinary hospital: because the dog was desperately sick.

Oh, said they.

{sigh} We’re surrounded by morons.

Life at the Funny Farm: September Edition

Jeez! 9 ayem and I’m flat-out exhausted! What a Morning from Hell! Up at the usual 5 a.m. but dawdled over the computer, so the Hound and I went out the door late.

Because it’s so late, we hit the road at the height of the Dogging Hour. Every chucklehead and his little brother and sister are out with their pit bulls, Aussies, spaniels, poodles, German shepherds, dalmations, chihuahuas, Bernese mountain dogs, Boston terriers, dachshunds, akitas, vizlas, and reservation dawgs. This adds a great deal of stress to a doggywalk because Ruby wants to LUNGE at every goddamn one of them. That, as you can imagine, tends to alarm the fellow dogs, which then go in for the attack by way of protecting their humans. To prevent this, every time someone comes along with a pooch, I have to stop and make Ruby “SIT! STAY!” until they go by us.

This is WHY we leave the house no later than 5:00…by way of avoiding the dog-walkers’ rush.

So we walk around the corner to see if our neighbor Signey is out with the kids. She lives right next door to the house where La Maya & La Bethulia lived before La B decided to pathbreak their escape to California, and at this time of year she’s often sitting in front with her small children and her herd of tiny, funny-looking adopted dogs.

And yes, she’s there. We start to schmooze…

New neighbor comes out with his dogs and walks off around the corner. She points out one of them and says it’s a pit-bull/shepherd mix and is extremely aggressive. She says it went after one of her pipsqueaks and almost killed it before she was able to tear the animal away from it.

Lovely. The scrawny male human looks like he weighs…oh…maybe 150 pounds, at the outside. Mmmm hmmmm…

She dotes on Ruby and rubs her hands and face ALLLLLLL over the dog’s fluffy corgi fur. Then she says happily, “And the kids are going to school.”

Oh. Good. It’s not maybe…it’s absolutely positively: You just rubbed fistfuls of virus into my dog’s coat! Jezus Aitch Keerist, but people are stupid.

By the time we get to Feeder Street N/W, there’s too much traffic to get across the road safely, so we wander back into the ’Hood, up the street I used to live on, around and around. This route is neither as long nor as pleasant as the stroll through the shady realms of Upper Richistan, but at least we don’t have to risk life or limb to get there.

Herd the dog back to the house, and now I have to wash her. She sleeps on my bed at night, and I do NOT want Signey’s kids’ classmates’ germs all over my bedding. Or all over the floors and furniture in my house, either.

Washing Ruby is quite a production. She hates it, she is terrorized by it, and she puts up one bitch of a fight. Decide against assaying this battle in the backyard — at that hour, it’s cool enough outside that cold water out of the hose could in fact harm her. So I have to drag her into the bathroom to wash her in the tub.

WHAT a fight!!!  I finally haul her into the bathtub, then get her wet all over, then scrubbed down with shampoo, then rinsed, then out of the tub…. Did I mention that she hates being wiped down with towels, too?

She goes shake shake shake shake shake shake shake… and covers the cabinetry, walls, and floors with billowing sprays of dog-water.

More fighting. Her hair is thick and she’s getting fat and I don’t get far with the towels. Dig out a hair dryer, plug it into a socket near the floor, and drag her over.

You thought the bathtub episode was a fight? Hah!

Finally manage to get enough of the sog out of her fur that I figure she probably won’t get chilled enough to get sick. I hope. By this time, though, the sun has risen and the air is warming, so…this is prob’ly a safe enough bet.

Clean up the mess and…clean up the mess and clean up the mess and clean up the mess and clean up the mess and….

Put the towels and the towel that fell off the towel bar into the bath water and the dog-wiping towel and the microfiber rags used to finish the dog-drying into the washer. Get out of my wet clothes and toss those in the washer. Find something else to wear. Climb into the shower and wash my own much-doggified body and hair before getting dressed.

By now it’s 8 o’clock!

Fix breakfast. Pour coffee. Just begin to drag the melon and the other goodies out to the table on the garden deck when ARF ARF ROAR YAP YAP ARF ARF WOOF WOOF ARF ARF YIPPETY YAP YAP YAP!!!!!!! 

Pool Dude.

Pool Dude is a chatty kinda guy. He does like to talk. Rudely, I sorta ignore him without saying in some many words arrghhh leave me alone because i bite! He goes on about his business. Putters around. Surfaces to explain his scheme to provide a refurbished pool cleaner gadget of the Amazing Variety, a plan that was derailed during the week. No problem. We discuss last night’s political side show, he being right-stage, me being left-stage, both of us being gun owners. I can’t get .38s. He has a bunch of ammo stashed. We figure we’ll be needing this, though I suggest it’s mighty doubtful that Trump’s bully boys will be rioting through sub-suburban neighborhoods. He says he’s taking no chances.

I say my plan is to get a blowgun. He says…

…hang onto your hat…

He used to make them! 

I mean, really. You’ve heard of “never a dull moment”? Around this place there’s never a sane moment.

I say I understand you can make them with PVC pipe. He says noooo, the diameter would be too large. You need copper piping.

Hmmmmmm……  Suppose Home Depot will cut that stuff to measure for me? Waddaya bet?

Which do we live in? Monty Python ShowTwilight Zone? Or just another planet altogether?

Pool dude out. 

It’s almost 10 a.m. I’ve got to go to Costco. On the way home, maybe I’ll stop at the Depot and see what I can get by way of lengths of copper tubing. Hmmmm….

Doggy Divin’ at the Break of Day

Dayum! As dawn cracks, the dog falls in the pool. Into the deep end, natcherly.

So I have to leap into the water (fortunately I was about to go swimming so am not burdened by blue jeans and shirts). The resulting tsunami swamps her and her head sinks below the surface. I swim to her, grab her as she’s going under, haul her over to the seat, and lift her out.

I thought she had figured out the pool boundary. She seemed to have realized that the water is not some flat surface she can walk on. But apparently she mis-stepped, and PLUNK! into the drink she went.

Anyway, drag the frantic dog out. She seems not to be at Death’s Door. Lock her out of the pool area, try to dry her with a towel. She’s having none o’that.

Now she’s soaked. The stuff Jim the Pool Dude has been putting in the pool to keep the algae under control really irritates my skin and presumably will do the same to her (expensively, no doubt), so now I have to shampoo her. She wouldn’t let me get near her long enough to grab her and drag her over to the hose, so whenever I get the chemicals washed off myself and out of my hair, I’ll have to put her in the tub and wash her off with the hose-end shower thingie.

Run inside. Jump in the shower and scrub the chemicals off me and out of my hair.

Chase down the dog. Wrestle her into the bathtub, Shampoo her all over, rinse (…fight fight fight fight…), pour hair conditioner all over her, rinse (…fight fight fight fight…), realize the conditioner is still all over the tub’s floor and that makes it too slippery for me to stand up; crawl out of the tub verrrreeee carefulleeee, grab a towel, start to wipe down the dog; realize the conditioner and even some shampoo are still in the dog fur, rinse the dog again and again and again and again (...fight fight fight fight…fight fight fight fight…fight fight fight fight…fight fight fight fight…fight fight fight fight…); haul her out of the tub again, try to dry her off (shake shake shake shake shake…all over the bathroom walls, cabinetry, and floors); give up and let her wander off (shake shake shake shake shake down the hallway); retrieve scouring powder and Simple Green, scrub the bathtub & shower surround, rinse the bathtub, then dry the bathroom walls, dry the bathroom floor, dry the bathroom door, dry me.

Holy shit! You know those little round red bruises us old people get on our arms? Yeah. Now I’ve got FOUR new ones on the right arm. Where, I presume, she dinged me with her claws.

Man, I really got a snootful jumping in. Went running this morning, before this little drama happened. That was enough to confirm that the chronic cough/scratchy throat are NOT covid but, as suspected and fervently hoped, allergies. Both those annoyances disappeared after a little steady, deep breathing. But now my throat hurts again and I’m coughing again.

Dog is snorking. Worried that she breathed water into her lungs,. Vet won’t be open for an hour. Can’t afford the emergency vet; besides, it would take almost an hour to get there, anyway.

But forthwith she stops. Seems to be fine.

Ugh. I’d started letting her into the pool area a week or so ago, because every time I go swimming she has a barking frenzy. She stands at the gate and raises holy Hell. Put her in the house? She stands at the back door and raises holy Hell. If she can come over to the pool, she shuts up and just trots around the perimeter, peering at me.

Heeee! Where she delivered a scratch, I’ve got a long fancy red thin line  extending north-northwest from one of the new elegant red spots. Ah, and she poked a little hole to the north of that. Heh! Looks like a geometry lesson: “what is the angle between ab and cd in an isosceles triangle?” 😀

Good thing I’m too old to care what I look like anymore!

Dispatch from “Prison”

This, my friends, is The Life.

Yes, I’m afraid so… All my Facebook friends are whinging mightily on and on about being cooped up at home, poor souls — well, except for one Fortunate Soul who happens to live on some acres of spectacularly gorgeous country. But the city mice? squeak squeak squeak squeak!

😀

Welp, I’m also a city mouse. But one with some weird traits that suit her well for Covid Quarantine.

At heart, I’m a recluse. Am now, always have been. Well, no: I might not have been in the first grade…but six years of unrelenting grade-school bullying and ostracism left me distrusting people and most comfortable with my own company. The more people I get to know, the more I like my dog…

You think that’s a joke? Not. So. Much.

So the fact is, an ordinary day around the Funny Farm is not so different from a day of Self-Isolation.

I live in a beautiful house with a beautiful yard and a handsome pool (already almost warm enough to swim in!). My job is something I’ve been doing 100% from home since 2000-and-aught 9. I’m good at it and I like it. And you know…there’s always something to do around a house that sits on a quarter-acre lot. The weather is spectacularly gorgeous: in a few minutes I’m going outside to dine on the patio. And there are moments — quite a few of them — when I suspect the highest and best use of one’s personal time is loafing.

Dog and I made a one-mile circuit of the park this morning. When we left at dawn, I hoped we would have some dog-free, human-free peace. Who gets out of the sack on a weekday when they don’t HAVE to go to work?

Yeah.

First cross-street, through the gloaming along comes a couple with a yappy little dog, It flies into a frenzy when it sees Ruby and tries to attack her. Luckily these two are smart enough to have their pet on a leash. It yaps and lunges savagely, but we get away unscathed.

We continue toward Lower Richistan. On the other side of the street, along comes a woman with a large white dog. She thinks she has it under control, no doubt…but not so much. It lunges at Ruby and tries to charge us, dragging the young woman off the sidewalk and into the road.

We get by this obstacle, and from there find the way un-doglested. There is NO one in the park — I imagine this is because of the covid scare. We manage to walk along the west sidewalk all the way to the south side, with no pestering or even threat of pestering. Cruise through the neighborhood to the south of the park. Walk north in the general direction of the Funny Farm.

But no. Here’s a moron with a big dog off the leash.

They’re a distance from us, so we forge on.

Around the corner, and here comes some guy in a car with two huge mutts in the back seat. He parks his car, flings open the door, and lets them charge into the park.

We walk across the street to avoid that catastrophe waiting to happen, with some success. I make a mental note: STAY COMPLETELY AWAY from the park (that you pay for with your taxes), no matter what time of day it is!!!!!

***

And dinner, partaken of in mid-afternoon, because I ate so much for breakfast that I’m not hungry till then, is fairly decent: grilled steak, roasted potatoes, grilled asparagus, a fine salad with fresh Meyer lemon and olive oil dressing, a passing decent cheap red wine, and a dose of Talenti ice cream.

Laundered clothes: usually I let a vast load pile up before diddling away time with that task. but with the current scare under way, I’m tossing stuff in the wash every couple of days.

The houses in this neighborhood have a peculiarity that, when I first bought here, I regarded as very tacky: all but one of the models have the washer/dryer hookup in the garage.

Of course! Everyone wants to spend time in 110-degree summer heat or 40-degree winter chill laboring over the laundry, right?

Well, at the time I bought into the ‘Hood — the height of the Savings & Loan Fiasco — I needed a place to live, and as a beggar couldn’t be a chooser. As it has developed, though, this trait has had a number of benefits. Obviously, it keeps the noise and mess out of the living area. Also, a couple of times when a washer has overflowed, it has saved me from having to clean up a gawdawful mess from the inside floors. And what is now to the point: After an outing to some germy store, I can shut the door behind me as I drive in, hop out of the car, and immediately strip off my clothes and throw them in the washer. A sink with a bar of soap is right there for the obligatory hand-scrubbing.

Discovered a way to build bird-proof “cages” to protect the vegetables I want to plant from the pet wild birds that have moved in to take advantage of the bird feeding stations. Planted a couple of heads of lettuce outside, and the birds leveled them to the ground. They also shredded a beautiful little succulent that I bought a few weeks ago and delayed planting outside till the weather was better. Managed to keep them out of the chard seedlings by draping nylon bridal-veil mesh over a stick, but that won’t last once the plants get a little bigger.

Next: to make a bunch of face masks out of a pair of old Laura Ashley pillowcases I found in the linen closet. These are supposed to be doable in 10 minutes. We shall see…they look pretty easy. Want to make some for myself, m’jiito, and the neighbors.

Then, once it’s good and dark, it’s off for the second one-mile walk with the hound. The plan is to try to get two miles of walking a day, by going out in the morning and the evening for one-mile junkets.

Fewer people are out with their dogs after dark, though last night I encountered three of them. One had a crazed yapper. The other, a couple, had a large retriever-like thing that was well behaved enough, and a big white pit-bull mix that…well, these stupid people had the mellow retriever attached to the large male human, and the pit-pull attached to the willowy female. The pit-bull launched into full attack mode when it saw Ruby. We were on the other side of the street. The damn dog dragged the woman into the street and pulled her down the road, trying to get at me and my 23-pound pooch.

She managed to regain her footing and haul the dog to a stop, but it looked pretty iffy there for a few seconds.

See what I mean about people? You just can’t fix stupid, no matter how hard you try.

No Cure for Stupid

LOL!!! There’s a BIG SIGN attached to the front gate reading

PLEASE DELIVER PACKAGES FOR THE BOXANKLE FAMILY TO 1234 EAST WHIZBANG DRIVE.

YOU ARE AT 1234 EAST WHIZBANG ROAD.

* ROAD AND DRIVE ARE DIFFERENT. *

Well…or something to that effect, only slightly more polite.

 

Apparently “polite” is not operative on “stupid.” Once again a UPS moron delivered a package for Josie, who’s holed up behind a wall of weeds and refuses to answer doorbells. So I had to traipse this thing over to her and leave it outside her locked security gates. She’s attached a new interior screen to the things, so you can no longer toss a misdelivered package into her entryway. But it doesn’t matter. The weeds and the jungle are now so thick no porch pirates can spot anything left at the door. 😀

Honestly. Neighbors you wish would move away….

The renters at the Perp‘s house, across the street, also fall into that category. Their ragweeds are up to your fanny. And they’re bikers. They like to roll their motorcycles out to the driveway and sit there revving up the unmuffled engines.

So how are y’all doing in the Great Pandemic Terror? I see they’ve locked down California and locked down Texas (whateverthef**k that means), but so far have refrained from applying prison technology to the inhabitants of lovely Arizona. We have closed all the schools, though; we’re told there’s some possibility that the public schools will remain closed for the rest of the semester.

Local parents have found a way to defeat that public-health measure, though: They’re banding together in neighborhood collectives to lodge the kids with a stay-at-home parent while all the worker bees go on in to the office.

This has some charm, despite its obvious untreatable stupidity: yesterday afternoon walking the dog was like a lovely Sunday afternoon, with all the little cutie-pies out playing up and down the streets. These beautiful children do add a great deal of charm and joy to an aging central neighborhood. But one hopes they’re not carrying anything to cut short one’s own plans for aging…

Frankly, I find myself wondering if a bunch of parents won’t decide that home-schooling isn’t such an eccentric quirk after all, once they discover that a home-schooled kid can get through a whole day of public-school content in about 90 minutes to two hours, at the dining-room table. If they figure out that they can hire on retirees and stay-at-home residents to watch the kidlets in play groups or take them on field trips while the working parents are at the jobsite, home-schooling may begin to look one helluva lot more attractive.

Once again, Ruby was attacked by some moron’s off-the-lead dog yesterday. When I started hollering at this pair — a young(ish) man and wife — to keep their F**KIN’ DOG on a leash, dammit! — they just didn’t get it. The dog did have a leash on. They just weren’t holding the other end.

Yes! They were letting their dog roam around their unfenced front yard dragging a leash behind it. See? “Dogs must be on leash”? Our dog IS on a leash. Right?

Neighbors we wish would move away…

Haven’t had much to say here because I’ve been paddling frantically to keep my head above a tsunami of incoming work. Sent off edits for a huge study in business management to the expectant authors. It’s an amazing thing, one that has taken a decade of research. Very, very interesting.

Literally had no time to take a deep breath when in came a book-length project. This is a historical study of Burma, Vietnam and waypoints  — again, extremely interesting. The author is a native speaker of Chinese teaching at a prestigious US university. I’m excited to read it…this is going to be a significant contribution to her field and quite a privilege to work on.

Made a run on AJs to pick up a crucial supply I’d forgotten to hoard: wine. {gasp!} What would one do if one ran out???

The shelves — all of them — ranged from empty to half-empty. Staff said the place had been going crazy for the past week — though my observation, a few days ago, was that AJ’s was pretty calm compared to Safeway, which literally was a mob scene. Most of the good cheap wine was sold out, but fortunately, I’m an aficionado of fine wines in the $8 to $9 range…and so is my pal, the AJ’s wine concierge. So managed to find an Oyster Bay Sauvignon blanc (!!! I thought they didn’t carry it! Walmart’s finest vintage!) and four superb bottles of…uhm…red stuff. This should last for a few days. I hope.

My son has been ordered to work at home. Even though he seems to prefer that when it’s his choice, when the boss says get-the-hell-outa-here, it’s a different tale. “I’m bored!” quoth he. He was reduced to cleaning out the kitchen drawers.

Yes. When you work at home you get a lot more work done a lot more efficiently than you do at an office…same as when you study at home. 😀

Speaking of work…it’s onward to Burma for me…