Coffee heat rising

Report from Hades North…

As we scribble — 8:16 p.m. — it’s dark outside and 105 degrees on the back porch.

Yea verily, a balmy Arizona evening. Humidity seems a little lower than it was yesterday. That’s good in that dry air creates the illusion that the heat is lower than it is. And bad in that it fries everything in sight and probably fries any budding rain clouds within a hundred miles.

Ruby and I have loafed all day. We did get out around 5 a.m. for a (warm!) early-morning doggy-walk.

Looks like my li’l gecko escaped a watery demise in the pool. While I was swimming this a.m., I found him clinging to the tiles on the deep end. Couldn’t see any way to catch him and lift him up onto the Cool-Deck without…well, killing him. So swam away and tried to dismiss the little guy from my thoughts.

This evening, by golly, there he is, ambling up a wall in the shade of the patio lattice.

Well. I hope it’s him, anyway, and not one of his cousins. He’s very, extremely, radically cute, with his funny little ultra-miniature dinosaur feet and his elegant serpentine tail. What critters God makes!

And now it’s 80 degrees here in the “guest” bedroom — the re-envisioned TV room that was decked out with a twin bed after free TV was taken away from us. No…I will not pay to watch the schlock pumped at us from commercial TV. You can get the best of what’s available in the U.S. — i.e., PBS News, CBS News, NBC News, ABC News (if you can stomach it, after the current revelations), and a few PBS dramas — off the Internet. BBC adds nicely to that…all of it for free.

Here’s the Entertainment of the Day: the Republicans idiotically scheme to try to impeach Biden because they don’t like his son’s behavior. Brillyant, eh?

Godlmighty. This current gang makes me feel embarrassed ever to have been a Republican. Betcha Barry would have jumped ship by now, if he were still kickin’.

Gosh, how many hours I spent in this room, lounging in a big overstuffed chair while grading papers in front of the (free!) television. {sigh}

Now the TV set is long gone. My son has that nice chair. And the TV cabinet serves as an armoir to hold blankets and junk.

The house’s air conditioner is laboring away to keep the temp down to 80 degrees. Pray it doesn’t crap out!

And now for a balmy afternoon….

Heh! After yesterday’s 110° at 7 p.m., we’re having a balmy afternoon today. At 4:30 in the afternoon — usually about the hottest point of the day — we’ve only barely reached the 110 mark. Brrrr!

Taking advantage of the crisp temperature, I sallied forth to the Safeway, there to buy some eye salve for the poor little dog, plus a whatnot or two. Truly hotter than the hubs on those black asphalt streets.

Safeway has invented a new annoyance: if you want to buy wine or other boozy beverages, they try to steer you into a dedicated checkout stand in the liquor aisle. Took a second or two to figure that out…

Right, guys. Like I want to stand in line to pay TWICE! Once for food and household items, once for a bottle of Chardonnay.

Criminey. WHO thinks this stuff up?

Oh well. When I expressed my annoyance, I was excused from the booze department line and allowed to buy all my groceries with a single pass-through at the front-of-the-store cash registers.

Man! My air-conditioning bill is gonna sail through the stratosphere this month. Here in the front room, the temp is 80 degrees, with the AC unit pounding away nonstop. But in the front guest bedroom, where Ruby and I have taken refuge from the present heat wave, it’s 78. That’s because the room sits directly under the AC unit, and its vent is the first vent that comes out of the machine.

By the time it reaches the family room, where I’m poking away at the keyboard right now, it’s in the low 80s. And the unit does not go off. Nope. Not once, not alllll dayyyyy long! That’s even though the thermostat is in the hall right outside that refrigerated bedroom.

No sign of the mid- to late-summer monsoon weather. Usually by now we have rainstorms that coalesce late in the afternoon and hold forth from around 4 or 5 p.m. on into the evening. This phenomenon cools the air significantly, sometimes to such a degree that in theory you could cut back on the AC bill.

Not this year, though! Not so far.

No doubt Ruby wonders where her dinner is. Poor beast!

I’m holding off on feeding her until the sun goes down — that’ll be another 2 hours or so — so that if and when we go for an evening doggy-walk, the pavement will be cool enough for her to walk without burning her feet. Even so, if we wanted to cross the street, we would have to wait till around 10 p.m. for the asphalt to cool. The sidewalks we can manage awhile after sundown….the roadways: not so much.

Ruby has a low-level eye infection…i think. Either that or allergies. Nothing much grows at this time of year that ought to trigger allergies, so the hypothesis is either an infection or dry eyes. My doc has me wiping my own dry eyes with something called “iVisia,” which seems to help a little. Tried it on Ruby, and found that yes, it’s seems to work on her, too.

But…go ahead! Just TRY to find it.

Found it a few days ago at the Safeway….but today when I picked up another bottle and brought it home, I discovered the stuff I’d grabbed off the shelf is a gel, not the liquid drops.

arrrrghhhh! AM i going to traipse back through the heat and the lunatic drivers to return that?

I dunno. Really…some things are just. not. worth it.

Speaking of “not worth it,” have you seen THIS little bit of intelligence? Robert Kennedy’s nutty son is busy spreading crackpot conspiracy theories…as part, it appears, of a projected run on the presidency.

Holy sh!t.

Are there, d’you think, enough anti-vaxxer ignoramuses, enough paranoiacs who believe 5G networks are a tool to spy on us all, enough conspiracy theorists who imagine the CIA put out the hit on RFK Sr. to carry this nut case into the White House?

Holy sh!t. Truly. If there are, I am moving to Venezuela. Or better yet: to a desert island in the middle of the Pacific.




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.

Dear Elected Representative…

The’Hood extends across two Phoenix City Council Districts: District 3 and District 5. So if we have something to grouse about, we have to rattle the cages of not one but two elected representatives. As you can imagine, this tends to discourage the locals from grousing.

But my gawd! There IS a limit.

Of late, a merrie band of drag-racers has taken up the habit of nightly hot-rod races, down Conduit of Blight and across Gangbanger’s way. They start at sundown and roar back and forth well into the night. Apparently the cops do nothing to discourage this party.

The reason, one surmises, is that the wonderful drag-race track that once stood out in a cornfield over on the west side was torn down to make way for tracts of stick-and-styrofoam houses. The voices of developers, in these parts, speak far louder than the voice of an unmuffled hot rod engine.

Hence, the latest missal to our elected representatives, Betty Guardado and Debra Stark:

Dear Ms. (Fill in the Blank):

Why exactly is nothing being done about the nightly drag races along Gangbanger’s Way west of Central and and along Conduit of Blight from Gangbanger’s to points south?

I live a good mile from Gangbanger’s and at least a half-mile from Conduit of Blight, and EVERY EVENING that racket keeps me awake into the middle of the night. The horrific uproar penetrates through solid block walls, double-paned windows, and a heavily insulated attic.

Conduit of Blight is lined with apartment buildings, mostly inhabited by working folks. Because there’s a school right next to those apartments, many of the residents there have children. How would YOU like to have to wrestle your kids out of bed at 5:30 or 6:00 in the morning after they’ve been kept awake half the night by screaming hot-rods?

Is the refusal to patrol and limit those drag races a class thing, a malicious thing, or just an ignorance thing on the part of our fine city leaders?

Now, I enjoy watching drag races myself, and if it were safe for a single woman to be out and about at 10, 11, or midnight in this corner of North Central, I probably would get up, get dressed, and trek down there to watch the show. But OUR NEIGHBORHOOD IS NOT A RACE TRACK.

Why exactly was the wonderful race track over on the far west side shut down? That was a perfect answer to the problem: hot-rod lovers got to show off their toys and race them, it was one heckuva lot of fun, and the show did not have to go on under anyone’s bedroom windows.

And what excuse IS there for not having the police keep this illegal use of the city streets under control?

If the city has an excuse to offer, please explain it.

This, of course, will elicit no response, or at least none with any teeth in it. Elected reps here in lovely Arizona — especially city council members — tend to rest cozily in the pockets of amply moneyed interests. They do not CARE that the children of the hoi and the polloi are kept up until midnight. Even the moderately affluent voters of the outer reaches of ritzy North Central don’t have much heft with these people. If you’re not a developer, you really don’t count.

But I suppose it’s worth occupying 30 seconds of their time — or their secretary’s time — to pester them with a letter.


The State of the…Whatever-We’ve-Got-Here…

Today’s Quora post:

What are your thoughts on Dr. Fauci telling reporters that America might still be battling smallpox and polio if today’s kind of misinformation existed back then?