Coffee heat rising

No Escape from the Mayhem…

This just in on the local news wires: a woman hiking in the desert around the residential tract near the Mayo Clinic was attacked and murdered.


Every time I think about how much I love my house but hate the marginal area where I live…how much I dislike Tony’s Home for Delinquent Boys and Girls across the street…how much I hate the constant cop flyovers, the noise from Conduit of Blight Blvd and Gangbanger’s Way, the transient bums, the need to keep every door and window locked…I daydream about moving to Fountain Hills.

The Mayo, replete with the best medical doctors in the county, is located right at Fountain Hills, a suburb of (un)lovely Phoenix. The houses are blandly handsome enough in appearance but cheaply built and elbow-to-elbow — don’t even ask how much it costs to air-condition one of those fine cardboard huts. There is a shopping center out there, but it’s pretty basic: you’d have to drive a ways to go to a first-rate supermarket or Costco or a specialty store of any kind. When my car got a flat while I was at the Mayo, I couldn’t find a gas station with a repair shop out there, not for love nor money.

The truth of the matter, I’m afraid, is what my friends say it is: you can’t get away from the mayhem that characterizes this part of America. Or maybe characterizes all of America. You’ll put yourself at considerable expense to try to escape. But you ain’t a-gunna escape.

And the prices in my favored part of town — a district called North Central — are just crazy! Even given that I could no doubt get a crazy price for my house, moving would cost enough to send me to the poorhouse.

Lookit this thing! That’s not a house: it’s a patio home. It’s smaller than my house. It’s a block from Seventh Street: noise, noise, and incredibly more noise, especially during rush hours. It has no yard. It has no pool. It’s not as nice as my house. It doesn’t have a real stove: just one of those glass-top hot plates.

Very nice, I’d say…if you don’t mind being smushed on top of the neighbors. Anything in the North Central area that’s truly in the same ball park as my house, in terms of size and quality, is waaayyyyy beyond my price range.

The houses in my present tract are cheaper because we’re bordered on the north by Gangbanger’s Way (the southern edge of Sunnyslope, a dangerous slum) and on the west by Conduit of Blight Blvd, also known as the Bum’s Highway. The homes and the neighborhood are quite desirable…but the areas around it ain’t!

SDXB moved to Sun City. He’s happy there. I’ve lived out there and don’t wanna do that again. It’s as far away from the central city (and my son) as Fountain Hills. Where Fountain Hills gets noise from jet passenger planes roaring in to Sky Harbor Airport, Sun City is blasted by racket from fighter jets flying out of Luke Air Force Base. And both venues are too, too far away from where my son lives.

And my son is very strongly opposed to my moving beyond shooting distance from his place.

For that matter, so am I. Of course I like living near where lives. And I like living in the North Central area.

But most of the centrally located neighborhoods are absurdly expensive. My area is within reason only because of the proximity to Conduit of
Blight Blvd (and now that damned train running up and down it!), to blight-ridden Sunnyslope, and to rackety Gangbanger’s Way. Despite those (considerable!) disadvantages, the houses are significantly newer than other structures in North Central (older houses are difficult and expensive to air condition, have weary wiring and leaky plumbing, and hordes of termites hiding inside the walls).

It’s crossed my mind to suggest that he and I trade houses. Then HE could deal with the Romanian Landlord and his disruptive delinquents. But he’d also have to deal with the pool (not bad if you hire a guy to ride herd on it, but my son is not the hired-help type) and the aging air conditioner and the aging landscaping… On the other hand, we could easily borrow enough against this house to pay off his mortgage (though it might be better to have me paying “rent” on his house, thereby making maintenance and repairs on that place at least somewhat tax-deductible….).

Heh! Here’s a thought: I rent his place from him, and he rents my place from me. This makes a WHOLE lot of costs tax-deductible for each of us! And I could still swim in the pool. Hmmmmm…..

The Birds Are Gone

On a beautiful morning like this — cool and clear, the kids across the street playing, the dog roaming about, the coffee cooled down to drinkable temp — the side yard would normally be alive with doves, sparrows, and wrens. Not so today.

This is the first morning all winter that I’ve decamped to the westside deck to swill the remainder of a the breakfast pot of coffee. And y’know…there’s not a single bird out here. This, presumably because I haven’t hung a feeder full of seed out here in months — not since we were enjoined to quit feeding birds, because of a bird plague that was holding forth. Apparently, though, I was about the only one who knocked off feeding them. We can hear mad chirping and frolicking coming from somewhere across the road…no doubt someone else is luring them that way.

In fact…let us get up, stumble out front and see if we can spot where they’re congregating…


Nope. Wherever the attraction is, it isn’t visible from the front yard.

What is visible? The aging paloverde tree in front, the one I had planted when I installed all the desert landscaping. It’s sagging to the east, and come the next stiff windstorm, very probably will fall over, pulling up a fair amount of gravel and fake “hills” with it. And likely knocking down the tree next to it.

Hm. I could have it taken out. Or just wait until it falls over and see if the homeowner’s insurance will pay to clean up the disaster area.

Meanwhile, in the Department of Home Improvements, the new refrigerator has about stopped making its obnoxious, loud noise.

Check out the saga, if you haven’t been following along:

Chapter 1: Kickoff
Chapter 2: Run-Run-Run-Run-Runaround Run-Run-Run-Run
Chapter 3: Fiasco Central
Chapter 4: Fridge Fantasia
Chapter 5: American Products in the Can

The criminal refrigerator is now working reasonably well, if you can imagine. At least, it works for the time being. Its motor still makes more noise than I would like, but it’s not intolerable. The problem, evidently, is that the vendor sold me a damaged item, but forcing them to take it back appears be outside the realm of possibility.

BECAUSE I had, at the behest of an older and wiser neighbor, charged the damn thing on my American Express card (rather than paying for it out of pocket, as I’d planned to do), AMEX went in for the kill when I called and reported the antics described in these parts. They not only refunded my money, but they seem to have so intimidated the vendor that the crooks have never come and retrieved their clunk of a refrigerator.

In the meantime, I called a repairman who, with what we might call minimal effort (all that was needed was one, count it: 1 screwdriver!) managed to get rid of the contraption’s most annoying noises. Upshot: even though I surely would prefer a better unit, what I have now does work and does not require me to close the bedroom door to sleep at night.

Hence there’s no hurry to run out and buy another refrigerator. Eventually, I will. But…not now.

The message being, I reckon: ALWAYS charge major purchases on a major credit card! No matter whether you pay for the purchase on time, or in one fell swoop.


Hmmmmm…. Lookee here: I need to put up new Cat Barriers.

Tony the Romanian Landlord’s “Other Daughter” (as opposed to the one he calls his “Pretty Daughter”), who lives two houses to the west of the Funny Farm, is a cat lady. She collects the damn things — it seems to be one of her psychoses. When I had a vegetable garden, the beasts hopped over the fence and converted it to their personal outdoor sandbox…rendering all the veggies I was growing inedible. Tried putting mouse traps along the top of the wall, but the cats had no problem negotiating their way past those things. So now I strap strips of carpet tacks to the decorative row of block that tops the wall. This DOES work effectively to keep the little darlin’s out.

Looks weird. Annoys the Hell out of me. But annoys me one helluva lot less than cat shit in the veggies.

Surprisingly, they’ve lasted quite a long time — several years. But after all this time, the weather has pretty well done them in. So…before it gets hot outside, I’d better take them down and replace them with fresh strips.

Another little household task I could bestir myself to take on — before it gets hot! — is fertilizing the roses, which haven’t been fed in several seasons.


Aaaaahhh shee-ut! Cop Copter just barged over, flyin’ low.

He seems to have moved right on, though: probably headed to the scene of a crime in some other precinct.

I am soooooooo tired of the endless round after round after round of Events here! If I could move away, I would be outta here so fast it would make your proverbial head spin.

Where would I go?

Ideally…Oro Valley, a suburb of Tucson nestled against the foothills of the Santa Rita mountains. Less than ideally but probably OK: Prescott, once the state capital but now your basic tourist trap. Both venues are very pretty…relatively low in crime…large enough to possess most of the amenities one would like in an urban environment (adequate medical care, decent shopping, reliable utilities that don’t require you to truck in propane, something resembling a cultural life, proximity to airports, pleasant enough housing). They offer many qualities that this place doesn’t have and don’t harass you with many of the negative things that you have to put up with here. Like crime, crime, and more crime…

HowEVER… My son is dead set against my moving away from here. I believe he may want this house, which is several decades newer than his place, or that he wants me and his dad to stay within easy driving distance as we stumble deeper into senescence. Neither of us is more than about 10 minutes from his place, and our location puts each of us within easy shooting distance of not one but two major hospitals.

Oro Valley and Prescott; either one is a good two- to three-hour drive from here. Even Fountain Hills, which is conveniently close to the Mayo and many a mile from the local blight, is about 45 minutes away. One-way. I expect he realizes that if I were to move, it would be to someplace a good long way from these precincts.

Ohhh well. Speaking of moving on: up, up, and awayyyy!

Time to Move Along?

Mogollon Rim from near Payson

HOLY mackerel! This place gets more and more crime-ridden and more and more violent with every day that passes!

Y’know…I can handle the mailbox thefts. And the burglars. And the cop helicopter flyovers every damn night. The abductions (for the purpose of rape) from the bus & train stops at Conduit of Blight and Feeder Street E.W. can be dealt with simply by never riding a bus or a lightrail train. The transient drug addicts: locks on the doors and windows, plus a large, loud dog. The panhandler harassment at the corner shopping centers: drive to some other district for grocery shopping and drugstore visits. The car break-ins and thefts: close the damn garage door…oh, but first, do park your car on the inside of said garage. The mail thefts: for a mere 400 bucks, install a Fort Knox of a mailbox. The burglars: keep a fine, fully loaded .45 on hand.

But I sweartogawd, every which way you turn, here’s more gratuitous, demented, and criminal violence. And it is too…damn…close to home.

I go by this corner every time I visit the Costco north of the university.

Ruby and I could walk to this dump, if it were safe to do so. As it is, I drive by there several times a week on the way to the freeway or to points west. That’s rather closer than I’d like to get.

This fancy charter school is in the Arcadia district, not far from where my late step-sister lived.

This episode took place in an informal B&B (why are those legal???) that popped up, also in the Arcadia district — an area where the ritzy and the titzy congregate to live in what they imagine will be peace.

A moment of nuttiness took place at a park just south of the university’s west campus…another garden spot that I pass in my car with some frequency.

Central High School is the best public high school in the city (which may be telling you something). My son went to a Jesuit high school directly next door to it — they occupy, in effect, practically the same campus. Sunnyslope belies this figure, though; it also has a reputation as one of the best-performing high schools in the country.

Yet… the violence and the vagrancy and the craziness go on and on and on and on, every damn day! And it seems to get more frantic as the weeks pass.

And y’know what?

I’m tired of living in the middle of a war zone. Once again I’m brought back to the feeling that as much as I love my home and my neighbors and my neighborhood, as much as I like being 8 minutes from the church and 10 minutes from my son’s house (he also lives in a war zone…), it’s past time to move along.

The violence, the crime, and the Loony Toons spread pretty homogeneously across the Valley. Of course, there’s more low-end craziness in garden spots like the apartments that flank the ‘Hood on the west side of Conduit of Blight Blvd and the dank slum directly to the north. But as that cop said after the Adventure of the Home Invasion: “It’s everywhere.”

[Yeah? Well…whaddaya bet some parts of Everywhere have less of it than our part does?]

So…if one were gonna move, where would one go?

Well, if I stayed in the Valley, the two choices would be Fountain Hills or the Cave Creek/Carefree area. I don’t consider the Sun Cities a choice: just not innarested in living in a ghetto for old tolks.

Both these venues are expensive. Fountain Hills has the added attribute of late-model cheesy construction: structures that were built to fall apart. The Funny Farm is probably in the last generation of solidly built affordable residential structures, and even it has a failing in the insulation department. Those houses out east are simply junk: Southern California-style built-to-fall-apart junk. Expensive junk.

Anything that is newer construction shares that fine attribute, and most of the stuff in Cave Creek and Carefree falls under the rubric of “newer.” Ticky-tacky is the name of the Development Game here in Arizona, price range notwithstanding.

That leaves as options some of the outlying towns, or Tucson.

  • Tucson, also plagued by gimme-a-buck developments, has two big draws: the best hospital/medical center in the state (something that looks Bigger the Older you get), and the vibrant cultural center that is the University of Arizona. A lot is going on in Tucson, the weather is far more pleasant than Phoenix’s, and with a fine mountain range behind the city, just about anyplace you can live is fairly scenic.
  • Prescott, a large small town/small city up the I-17 between Phoenix and Flagstaff, is a pleasant little burg. HOWEVER…it’s been discovered. From what I’m told, mobs of Baby Boomers and younger people are moving up there, turning it into yet another Southern California East. The weather’s a little cooler (though what you save in air-conditioning you’ll probably spend on heating); it has a supposedly excellent medical center (people who work there beg to differ, interestingly enough); and it’s a straight shot down the freeway to the urban marvels of Phoenix. I’m not at all sure it has enough more to offer, when compared to Fountain Hills, to make it worth a major move and a long drive into town.
  • Payson: Mr. and Mrs. Fireman moved up there, on the edge of the Mogollon Rim. They bought an extremely cool house in the forest, and, given Mr. Fireman’s outstanding handyman skills, have turned it into a to-die-for little palace. Problem with Payson? Rudimentary services and facilities. They had to drive their dog into Phoenix to be tended to by a veterinarian after the poor pooch was attacked by a neighbor’s dog. No Costco: only one Safeway, a store that I would call…well, pretty blah. No first-rate doctors or dentists — they drive into town for those services, too. Doctors? Doctors? We don’t need no steeeenking doctors!
  • Uh huh. Well…if you have to schlep all the way down the mountain — about a two-hour drive — for basic shopping and services, you’d be far better off to live in Fountain Hills.  Not only do they have a couple of supermarkets within the development, there’s a Costco down the road and all the upscale shopping of lovely Scottsdale just a few miles to the west. Plus you could walk to the Mayo Clinic from Fountain Hills!
  • Chandler: Nope. Ticky-tacky suburb Hell.
  • Florence: Nope. No better than Payson, but not as pretty.
  • Ahwatukee: Blech. If I’m gonna live in ticky-tacky mass construction, I’ll take Fountain Hills any day.
  • Tempe: Gawd help us!
  • Sun City/Youngtown: Horrible ghettos for old folks, garnished by cheaply built ticky-tacky.

Really, in a lot of ways, the ‘Hood IS the best of all possible worlds, at least for someone who’s not swimming in money. It’s an established neighborhood. Because the upscale section has irrigation, we have mature and very beautiful green landscaping. Even over here in the po’ folks quarters, the trees and shrubbery are mature, shady, and lovely. It’s close-in — shopping, schools, entertainment, doctors & hospitals, all right around the corner. We have a park in the middle of the neighborhood. We’re served by a decent public grade school and one of the nation’s top public high schools, plus an array of private and religious K-12 schools. Young upwardly mobile types have discovered it and are madly gentrifying, so there’s nowhere for property values to go but up. Plus: what could be better than young families with young kids playing around the neighborhood?

So…i dunno. It’s a toss-up. So it seems to me…

California Dreamin’…or is that a nightmare?

Amazed to learn from my son that, like me, he also is bothered by driving over the increasingly Southern California-esque roads here in lovely L.A. East. He is a confident, assertive driver who isn’t bothered by lunatics, morons, flashing red lights, gunshots, and assorted other features of driving on the homicidal streets of Phoenix. Nor is he inclined to fly into fits of high rage, as his muther is…

Wouldn’t it be grand if I could leverage that to persuade him to move SOMEPLACE less massively tacky?

To my mind, the Valley of the We-Do-Mean Sun gets more and more like the crowded, smoggy, grody L.A. Basin with every day that passes. I detested living in Long Beach, with its air that would make me sick and its blandly ticky-tacky aging suburban style and the streets mobbed all the time and the grodily casual style of its fine inhabitants. And the longer I live here, the more I think I’d like to be living somewhere else.

I don’t think he’ll choose to make an escape, because his dad is firmly stapled to the Valley floor. Current Wife has a daughter who works as a librarian here, and so she’s unlikely to agree to move to Prescott or some such. As long as DXH stays put, my son will stay put.

Hm. Wonder if I could talk him into investing in a second home, off in some remote locale. Then I could stay there most of the time. He could come up and hang out when he wants some peace and quiet. But he’d still have a foothold down here, from which he could keep an eye on his Dad and New Wife.

Wonder if he could be talked into moving to Fountain Hills? That at least is pretty far from Crime Central. But truth to tell, it’s a long way from his Dad’s place, too. If either of those two old folks has a stroke or a heart attack, it would take him 40 or 50 minutes (at best) to get to the hospital. Here, all three major metropolitan hospitals are within five or ten minutes of his house.

DXH, who was happy to escape life in small-town Western Colorado (actually, it was the largest burg on the Western Slope…but still: a backwater), absolutely positively will NOT be persuaded to move out of central Phoenix.

Hm. Maybe. Unless..he thought that Fountain Hills, being adjunct to Scottsdale, would put him closer to the Cultural Venues he favors. But…no: the Chamber Music Society is performing at Central Methodist — they used to haunt the Scottsdale Center for Performing Arts. AZ Theater Co performs downtown, too…so that scheme wouldn’t work.

BUT….really, the kid and I are both very spoiled to a) living in central locations and b) construction that is not ticky-tacky. Most of Fountain Hills IS ticky-tacky. All very nice and new(ish), but strictly from stick-and-Styrofoam. In Wickenburg–formerly a railroad town on the way to Las Vegas and southern California, now effectively a suburb of Phoenix–you can find some very pretty properties, but the same issue holds: newer structures are certifiable junk. I happen to favor houses with WALLS. Remember those?

The more I look at the real estate listing in those suburbs today, the better I like my house. And neighborhood.

Construction is better. Houses here are not QUITE right on top of each other. The place is centrally located. No jet aircraft graze the top of your chimney. A-a-a-a-n-d…as gas skyrockets up, the fact that we’re right on the lightrail line starts to look better and better. Conduit of Blight and Gangbanger’s way, along which the lightrail is slated to run, begin to look like assets.

Contemporary house construction is cheapied down to the point that if they built the places any flimsier, people would be living in tents.

Interior walls hardly exist anymore. Those that do often don’t go up to the ceiling — they’re more like room dividers. Most late-model houses have no gas service, and builders proudly present you with a glass-top hotplate instead of a real stove. For most people, that’s prob’ly OK, given that Americans don’t cook anymore. But…I still want an actual stove!.

Even expensive tracts are now fields of houses built eave-to-eave — in one Wickenburg development, even with the tricky marketing photography you can see that the neighbors behind you can gaze right straight in your back windows. So ALL of your drapes and blinds would have to be closed ALL of the time! Why have windows at all?

Meanwhile, in quieter venues like Wickenburg and Fountain Hills, those nice desert-y backyards are gonna be full of coyotes and rattlesnakes. Dandy! You wouldn’t dare let your dog out to snuffle around in peace. And in fact, you probably ought not to let a small child play in those yards unsupervised. Every…minute…the…kid…is…outside, Mom or Dad or Babysitter will have to be peering over her shoulder.

Here in the ‘Hood, our houses are made of block. Interior walls are insulated. Gas service allows you to have a real stove in the kitchen. And you don’t have to take out a bank loan to drive to the grocery store, what with gasoline now almost $5 a gallon.

It does make our centrally located districts look highly desirable — notwithstanding Biker Central and the constant cop copter fly-overs and the late-night drag-races and the nuisancey lightrail and the panhandlers in every parking lot.

Ugh. I guess next week…or maybe this afternoon, depending on mood…I’m going to have to think through a set of Instacart lists. With the price of gasoline now, unless Instacart has jacked up its rates accordingly, it will cost no more (maybe less) to order up delivery of grocery and Costco items than to traipse around the city after them. This would relieve me of two hassles in one trip: Californicated roads and astronomical gas prices.

Wow! Life in These New-nited States!

Never a Dull Moment

Certainly not at 1:00 in the morning… The wind is howling up quite the storm. The Soleri bell in back is jangling madly. Tbe corgi is unnerved. Haven’t peered out to see what’s going on, but figure the pool will be filled with debris by dawn.

Fortunately for me (but not for him…), Pool Dude is slated to show up shortly after dawn. He’ll have quite the mess to clean up.

Just now life is tending toward mess, national and international events aside. Even if the wind weren’t wailing, I wouldn’t be able to sleep. Developed a cyst thing in my eye. Besides being damned creepy, it itches and it burns enough to keep Dracula himself awake all day. And me all night…

The aged eye doctor I found (the guy must be 85 if he’s a day…maybe older than that!) insists that it probably will go away. Sources I’ve found say you can treat it with steroid eye drops, but he declines to prescribe anything other than over-the-counter eye drops, which do (as far as I can see) little or nothing. So I suppose in a day or so I’m going to have to brave the bureaucracy at the Mayo and try to get my doc out there to refer me to one of their specialists.

Shee-ut! Like I have nothing else to do but spend two hours driving back and forth to northeast Scottsdale.

Speaking of the which, yesterday I traipsed out to the Apple store at the wildly fancy Kierland Commons, whence Apple’s corporate (un)wisdom sent its formerly centrally-located store. They give lessons on how to use the iPhone, it develops. So I made an appointment and then drove and drove and drove and drove and drove and…etc., arriving in Scottsdale right on time: 10 a.m., as they opened,


They didn’t open.

Their servers were down, said they. So they sent everybody who was standing around outside away!

It’s a 45-minute drive out there! So I wasted 90 minutes and a quarter-tank of gas schlepping to Scottsdale for nothing! And I still have no clue how to use the miracle iPhone…

“Wanna make another appointment?” say I to the young woman engaged in shooing away customers, She does, after all, have an iPad in her nicely manicured paw.

“We can’t! Because the servers are down!”  Never heard of a pencil and a pad of paper, I guess. 😀

Back to the car, via Restoration Hardware, where I spotted a sofa and chair that would be perfect for my son were the price anywhere near what someone other than Steve Jobs could afford.

Out in the parking lot I find a black guy standing by a car now parked right next to mine.

He is cute. Very, very cute.

He looks impatient, and he also looks a little nervous about the old white broad spotting him as he lurks near her car.

“You look like a man who’s waiting for his wife!” say I.

“That’s right!” He laughs. We chat.

Born 30 years too late. {sigh}

Eventually I climb in the Dog Chariot and cruise off down Greenway Road, whence I came.

Outward bound, I’d spotted a housing tract on the north side of Greenway: 1970s and 80s mass-produced houses. Curious, I dodge into the place and drive around.

It’s actually quite a pleasant neighborhood, very similar to the ’Hood. Matter of fact, I spot one house made of cinderblock that looks for all the world like it’s the same model as the Funny Farm. Most of the places, though, are considerably more fancy-looking. I wonder what houses cost there (though I can imagine)  but can’t find any “for sale signs,” so never do get a line on that. Back at the Funny Farm, though, I do find some listings posted on the Web.

  • Holee mackerel:lookit this thing! It’s in the general area…a million dollars for a house the size of mine, elbow-to-elbow with the neighbors! Auuughhhh! Thanks, I’ll take my pet burglars…
  • eeeeek! For 2/3 of a million bucks: this is 270 square feet smaller than my house, same kind of slump-block construction. Fake stove. Home Depot kitchen cabinets. No pool. Only three bedrooms. And…huh…that’s odd. It actually looks like the pool might have been filled in. Jeez…did a kid drown there?

Meanwhile, the eye cyst is getting very much on the old lady’s nerves, and I’ve been told Aged Eye Doc went into the hospital to have surgery on a knee.

When I get home, I call Young Dr. Kildare’s office to try to get a referral to another ophthalmologist. I cannot get past the telephone runaround. After “If yada yada yada, press nine,” I hang up in a rage.

I try to reach the eyeglass place: they’re not open. (They’re never open. Is the place a front for a cocaine operation or what????)

Now I decide to drive to Costco, which has a very good and very busy optometry department, and ask for a referral to an ophthalmologist that they know. And buy a few groceries while I’m at it. Okay: acquire a list of names, buy a few pieces of junk, drive home.

These supposed eye docs comprise a list of guys working for some chain eye-care outfit. Oh well: any port in a storm.

Calling one number, I get a lady on the phone who is a complete, blithering MORON. I cannot make her understand that I need to see a doctor promptly because I have a lump growing in my eye and it HURTS. Finally I lose my temper at her impregnable barrier of brainless obtuseness and hang up.

What to do, what to do??????

Call Aged Eye Doc’s place, hoping his staff will be there. And yea verily! Get his appointment lady. Ask if they could please refer me to one of Eye Doc’s colleagues, because this thing is not getting better (as he had hoped it would) but instead is getting bigger and worse.

Incredibly, she says he’s in the office for short periods and will see me TOMORROW MORNING!!!


I say But he just had surgery on his knee! 

She says Yeah, he did, but he’s coming in to the office for a couple of hours a day. 

I say He’s a man of steel! 

She laughs and makes an appointment for 10 ayem. Thank the heavens!!!!!

So I show up at that duly appointed hour this morning. He proposes to do nothing about it. Says the alternative to waiting and watching and hoping the eyedrops help is surgery. He’s in no hurry to do surgery. I mention that I learned that steroid eyedrops are often used on these things. He demurs.

Well, at least he’s not knife-happy. Surgery on an eye does not sound like a good thing.

It’s now 2:00 in the morning, as we scribble. The wind died down for…oh, about five minutes. Now it’s wailing around again. “Gusting,” I suppose that is.

The dog is asleep. Wish I were, too…

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.