Coffee heat rising

Tiny House Dreamin’…or Nightmaring?

So here we are killing time by cruising the Internet till it gets warm enough to walk the convalescent dog, and what do we come across but this intriguing article reflecting on the joys and drawbacks of life in the faddishly current “tiny house.”

Tiny houses, as you’ve no doubt noticed, are (heh) Big these days: touted as small of footprint, gentle on the environment, and mighty cheap. And for sure: if you enjoy RVing or camping for lengthy periods in a tent, you could find one of these minuscule dwellings to be just the ticket. I can imagine that if you were single, or a young couple still madly in love and very close, a tiny house could be a solution to the housing problem.

As a vacation home? Reminds me a lot of a hunting cabin. Not something I can contemplate living in for any length of time, but maybe it would do for a weekend; at most for a month, assuming you were close enough to a town with a grocery store so you could reprovision occasionally. But I think you’d have to be pretty desperate to choose one of these things as a place to live long-term.

It might work if you lived in or close enough to a town were you could rent space to hang off-season clothing and store goods that are needed only occasionally. And if you ate out a lot. But if you were given to cooking every day, it’s hard to see how you could store even a week’s worth of food and cooking supplies in such a place.

To my mind, even a single-wide mobile home — what we old bats call, politically incorrectly, a “trailer” — would work better. And a double-wide? Far superior.  Although to my mind the costs, elbow-to-elbow closeness, and restrictions of a mobile-home park are prohibitive, there’s not a thing to stop you from parking your trailer in the middle of a piece of property where zoning permits. And that would include any number of idyllic rustic locales like the one pictured for the article in question. You really don’t have to keep it in a trailer park. Buy a piece of rural property, install a septic tank, and run lines from the local utilities, and you’ve got your own very fine trailer park. For one.

For that matter, there are trailer parks and there are trailer parks. Some are highly desirable: close to scenic venues, quiet towns, outdoor activities. La Maya and Bethulia bought a nice mobile home, spectacularly renovated, in a beautiful trailer park near the ocean in the Bay Area, for example. It’s not only in a very pretty spot, it’s close to a college town with every amenity you could possibly crave and then some, and it’s not so far from San Francisco.

When we were looking for a place to move SDXB’s mom — this was at the time the Bush Recession trashed the sweet WW II-vintage garden apartment complex where she’d been living — we realized that for what she could collect from the depreciated value of her garden apartment, about the best she could afford would be a mobile home. Some of the places we saw during this search were amazing. Not all that cheap, it must be said — but certainly not the cost of a stick-built house.

At one point, we found a mobile home that was nicer than my house — and my house was on the high side of middle-class. It was larger than my house. It was newer than my house. It had a better kitchen. And, perched on a hillside north of town, it had a view to die for. Plenty of room between the neighbors — the lots were at least a third of an acre apiece, some significantly larger. It was close to where SDXB and I were living, not far from a first-rate hospital, and within reasonable driving or taxi distance of grocery shopping.

Really: if that place had been in Yarnell, I’d have bought it for myself! 😀

Alas, though, the “had been in” part was the kicker.

We saw it on a weekend. I went back out there along about the middle of the following week, to explore the tract and to take another look, by way of confirming that what we thought we were admiring wasn’t just wishful thinking.

Yea verily, the handsome little hillside home was still there, still beckoning.

But that’s not all that was there. Just to the west of the subdivided residential land was…ohhh wait for it… A huge sand and gravel operation! Vast monsters of equipment were fully engaged in tearing down the side of a hill that, when things were quiet, appeared to be part of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. But which clearly was not. The air was thick with dust and the noise was crazy-making.

That was too bad. Because without that little…uhm…drawback, it would have been a lovely place to live.

Nevertheless, it did demonstrate that by including mobile homes in your search, you could find a double-wide that is larger than my four-bedroom house (square footage-wise), just as pleasantly appointed. and a whole lot cheaper than the $430,000 my house is supposedly worth now.

Hassle after hassle after hassle

It just goes on and on and on and on…

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Uh huh.

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

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

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

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


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



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

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

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

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

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

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

Enough, already!

Yarnell dreamin’ again: I have SO had ENOUGH, already(!) of the gawdawful racket that comes with living in the lovely city.

The damned helicopters are hovering over the freeway, where some guy rolled his work vehicles and dumped nails — yes, NAILS — all over three northbound lanes. They’ve got the freeway shut down and are routing traffic up Conduit of Blight Blvd to Gangbanger’s Way, creating a massive rush-hour traffic jam. This would be a massive jam if it weren’t 7 in the morning. It’s hard to imagine what a mess they must have just now.

So sirens are wailing, helicopters are roaring, and the damn train on Conduit of Blight is going BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG BONG!!!!

I hate this racket. The sky is not supposed to roar. We were told the damn train boondoggle would be quiet (it is not). Between the cops and the ambulances, this area never is free of sirens howling.

Y’know, I love my house and my yard and my neighbors, but when you can’t enjoy the place because the ambient racket hurts your ears, you have to wonder why you’re staying. Especially with the city about to institute yet another scheme to dump transient drug addicts in your lap.

Interestingly, housing prices in Tucson are somewhat lower than they are here. I was surprised to learn this. The Oro Valley, an area on the northwest side of Tucson, has the lowest crime rate in the state, and yet the housing prices are similar to those in my part of the ’hood.

Tucson is surrounded by mountain ranges. If it weren’t for the city, it would be an exceptionally beautiful spot. Check out this little hovel, for example. How would you like that view off your back patio? I don’t much care for the late-model architecture — detest walls that don’t come up to the ceiling and dust-catching “plant shelves” — but one could live with it if the place were quiet and the views spectacular.

For what I could net on this house, I could buy a comparable place in Tucson, on acreage. There’s an area called Casas Adobes with houses whose vintage is more my speed. This place, for example, could be made more or less acceptable simply by getting rid of the owners’ ugly furniture. It’s cheap enough (if $312,000 can be called “cheap”) that I would come away with an even trade, after the expenses involved in unloading my house.

Problem with Casas Adobes, I suspect, is cued by those bars on the windows. Almost every house for sale in that district has bars on every window and door. And that’s telling you they have a crime (and probably a transient) issue. Trulia’s crime map makes the Casas Adobes itself look OK, but the area just to the south is not good at-tall. Well. The “area just to the south” is the entire city of Tucson. Which is, it must be admitted, mostly Chez Pitz.

On the other hand, the advantage of Tucson — as compared to lovely Yarnell or Prescott or Wickenburg — is that it is a city. It has a cultural life. In fact, because the University of Arizona (which resides in Tucson) still resembles a real university — as opposed to the learning-factory model of Arizona State — the university does support quite a vibrant cultural life. Tucson also hosts a major medical center, with one of the only top-ranking hospitals in the state. Tucson has a church, St. Phil’s in the Hills, whose music program appears to be similar to All Saints. Probably not as large or as elaborate. But there it is. None of those things hold forth in little burgs around the state.

Something to think about…

Happy(?) Thanksgiving

Never fails, does it? All real emergencies, terrors, clogged drains, and minor inconveniences invariably happen on a holiday. Or, at best, on a Sunday.

Not so reliably on a Sunday, though: too many resources are open and available on Sunday.

But Thanksgiving? Christmas? The Fourth of July? Ohhhhh yeah! Whatever can go wrong will go wrong…on a major holiday!

Early this morning the dogs and I climb off the bed. Cassie seemed OK but tired, which wasn’t surprising because we spent yesterday evening at my son’s house. She doesn’t sustain even the most routine exercise well anymore: lately, if I try to walk her around the corner and back — about a tenth of a mile — she tires but seems OK. But the next morning she seems exhausted.

When she walked outside to do her thing, and I didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary. But within the hour, she couldn’t stand up to eat her food. She just stood over her dish, shaking all over. She seemed almost paralyzed: couldn’t or wouldn’t walk, and though she was sort of standing, it was more like huddling upright. I had to lift her onto the doggy bed pillow, and then position her so her nose would not be pressed into the stuffing and suffocate her.  Even reclining, she continued to shake all over and she seemed unable to move on her own. It was almost like she’d had a stroke.

My son and I are supposed to go to our friends’ house for Thanksgiving dinner. This, we might add, is a bit of a BFD.

So the emergency vet’s receptionist said the wait there right now is several hours. And how much does a trip to the emergency vet cost? “A hundred dollars.” And that is  just to walk in the door.

If Cassie is dying, I figure she might as well die here as there.

But now I don’t know what to do about the Thanksgiving thing. I hate to leave her here to die by herself. But…on the other hand, I don’t know that she will die today. She has her ups and downs (though rarely as extreme as this). This isn’t the first time I’ve thought she was on the way out. Apparently these swings are a function of the adrenal gland tumor. Weakness, shaking, collapse, lack of energy, panting, rapid breathing are all symptoms of the thing. So, we might add, is “symptoms seem to come and go.”

There isn’t much I can do for her except let her rest. And frankly, other than putting her down right now, there’s not much a vet can do for her, either.

So I’m sitting there on the bed e-mailing this intelligence to my son: writing her obituary, as it were. And I hear {click click click click} up the hallway. Ruby is standing right there, so it ain’t her. Cassie has managed, somehow, to pull herself to her feet and she’s staggering up the hall toward the kithchen.

She’s walking and she’s stopped shivering all over. And…next thing y’know, she eats a whole plate of dog food..

Well, she staggered outside briefly. Then disappeared. Had to set Ruby to searching for her, which is a trick because one thing a corgi ain’t is a search dog. I’ve worked on the “find” command with that mutt until I’m blue in the proverbial face, and she still only vaguely gets the idea.

Found the patient inside, again unable to walk, shaking again. Picked her up and carried her back to the dog bed. She’s resting and has stopped shaking, at least as long as she’s reclining.

Okay, let’s try to think rationally here.

  • She doesn’t appear to be in much discomfort, except that she’s too weak to walk. That she ate an entire serving of dog food indicates that she’s not in a lot of pain.
  • I’m going to have to have her put to sleep in the next few days or, at most, weeks.
  • Therefore it doesn’t make a lot of sense to rack up a bill of hundreds of dollars to take her to an emergency vet.
  • Nor does it make sense to spend all of Thanksgiving Day sitting in a veterinary waiting room for something that ultimately can’t be helped.
  • If she’s going to die today, my being here will not change that.
  • But she’s probably not going to die today, given that she was able, eventually, to get up and eat, and given the pattern of ups & downs.

Unless things change a lot for the worse, I think I could safely go to our friend’s house. There’s little or nothing I can do for the dog here.

Next week, though, I’m afraid it’s going to be The Time. If she doesn’t pass through the veil today, I’ll have to take her up to one of the vets tomorrow or Monday.

This Event will present a whole series of new decisions:

Do I get another dog?

If so, what kind of dog?
From where?

Do I stay here in my house, or move away from the recrudescent Tony Situation?

If I’m right about what Tony is up to (let us hope not!), then I will need to get another German shepherd or similar protective, aggressive dog. There’s a reason I didn’t replace Anna with another GerShep: I’m too old to train and handle a large, high-drive dog safely. This fact inclines us to say “move away.”

If I move, where do I go?

Some friends are trying to sell their two-bedroom patio home, by way of moving themselves into an upscale old-folkerie. It’s a nice little house, centrally located, and I would buy it but for two things:

§ One of the reasons they’re moving is that they have a certifiably lunatic neighbor who has made a lot of trouble for them. Out of the frying pan, into the fire!!
§ It needs about $15,000 worth of renovations.

Well. And there are some other things:

§ It’s two houses in from Central Avenue, a noisy main drag.
§ It’s in an HOA. I do not want to deal with an HOA.
§ The little development borders the canal, which is a superhighway for drug-addicted bums.
§ It’s within (loud) earshot of Sunnyslope High School, where the band practices and football games blast forth during the fall semester.
§ They’re asking more than it’s worth, IMHO, especially given that it needs new flooring, a new security gate in front, new landscaping, a gate on the west side through which to roll the garbage can by way of keeping the peace with the crazy next door…and on and on.

For what I can pay, that leaves either Sun City or Fountain Hills, neither of which are within reasonable driving distance of my life.

If I stay here and Tony starts to do his thing again — frankly, I’d put money on it that he’s up to just that — then I will need to get a dog that’s big enough to be some protection. That represents a) expense and b) hassle. I’ll also need to add to the armory: really, I need a shotgun, because I’ve become too goddamn lazy to drag the pistol to the range and practice.

A new shotgun will cost several hundred bucks…as nothing compared to the cost of moving. I have some friends who are into armaments and so may be able to find someone who knows someone who’d like to sell Dear Old Dad’s heirloom. Unfortunately SDXB has already unloaded (heh) his. But a few hundred dollars is, indeed, as nothing compared to the cost of moving.

I might be able to get an older, fully socialized GerShep from the German Shepherd rescue. But that poses its whole new set of questions:

How will Ruby take to a new room-mate?
Given enough provocation, will this proposed GerShep exterminate Ruby?
The German shepherd’s lifespan is nine to eleven years, during which one can expect to have to deal with some very expensive ailments. Do I really want to do that again? For a dog that I may have for, say, five years at the outside?

Here’s the Kid. And so, away.


A Quieter Day in Hell…

So things are looking a little less devilish today. Believe it or not…

Cassie seems much, much improved. She still chokes and wheezes when she drinks water (a lot of it!), but she’s always tended to do that. I’m easing her off the Temaril-P, because Son’s Vet remarked that the prednisone is probably the cause of the incontinence. So far, she seems not to be suffering from removal of the drug.

Meanwhile, Ruby has started sneezing, snorting, and coughing, suggesting that MarvelVet’s staff’s first guess — an infectious disease — was the right guess from the git-go.

So I feel a little more positive about my little pal, for whom I was beginning to lose hope.

Many immediate tasks need to be done. But I’m still too tired to attend to a one of ’em. Cassie rousted us all out of the sack along about 2:30, as usual, needing to get down and get out before she exploded. Outside, it’s starting to sprinkle. Will we get another two inch-downfall, like yesterday’s? We run for the side door, she hunkers down on the rosebed, and…and…


HOLEEEEE SHEE-UT! A lightning bold strikes so close you can hear it crackle! A blast of thunder rattles the trees and the rafters. Cassie jumps about two feet into the air and so do I. In mid-piss, she runs for the door!

Nooooo!!!!! Stop! Wait! HURRYUPOUTSIDE!

She turns back to the flowerbed and pees a flood. We both fly back in the door.

I try to persuade Ruby to go outside. She’s having nothin’ of it.

Shortly the rain begins to fall. No…to blast down out of the heavens. The dogs are alarmed. I think it must be hailing, but no amount of peering out into the darkness reveals any verifiable flying chunks of ice. No. It’s simply the most ferocious rainfall I’ve seen in many years.

Weirdly, the power stays on.

Usually, we lose the power during these little freshets.

I end up spending the rest of the night editing a Chinese math paper. So much for sleep…again.

From there a sorta miserly breakfast — bacon cheese tomato broiled on toast — and off to choir. I do NOT know how long it’s been since I’ve had more than a couple hours, collated from snippets, of sleep during a night.

Someone compliments our new choir director on the house he and the wife recently bought and moved into. Out of curiosity, I ask him what part of town it’s in. They’ve been posting pictures on Facebook and the architectural style looks familiar, but in my dotage I haven’t placed it.

“The Pointe Tapatio,” says he.

Holy mackerel, think I: that’s a Gosnellerie!

SDXB’s friend Bob Gosnell and his brothers built three fancy resorts here in the Valley, which they sold to…uhm, Hilton, I think. And around these palatial joints they built distinctive fake-Southwestern housing developments, kind of cool in appearance but not so cool on the inside when the heat runs high. They were famed for their shoddy construction — and I remember a conversation in which Bob admitted building them as cheaply as possible.

On the other hand…


The things are still standing.

I hadn’t even given the Pointe developments a first thought — to say nothing of a second thought — when thinking of where I might go to get away from the accursed Blightrail, the plague of homeless drug addicts, the coming infill housing for said homeless drug addicts, and the City’s various other schemes to turn our neighborhood into a slum.

The Pointe Tapatio isn’t in the greatest part of town, nor is it in the worst part — it’s on the way up 7th Street to on-again-off-again tony Moon Valley, but still in a historically blighted area called Sunnyslope. But…on the other hand… it’s as far away from the lightrail, Conduit of Blight, and the slums of West Phoenix as you can get and still be more or less in North Central, sort of. You can walk from most of the neighborhoods to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve. It’s within easy driving distance of the church, of my son’s house, and…hmmmm…and it’s closer to one of the grocery stores I habituate and to the Costco I prefer. Dayum.

Off to the Internet to do a little real estate shopping!

Interestingly, many of the houses are about the same size as mine, and about in the same price range. They may be $20,000 or $30,000 more than my house…but…y’know what? I really could pay that much more, to get out of here. That would cost no more than making an even trade for a house in Prescott and then having to get a moving company to haul my furniture cross-country.

And it wouldn’t require me to pull up roots.

And I probably won’t live long enough for the thing to fall down around my ears.

Click on the picture for a larger image.

Most of them have those dreadful glass-top stoves. Thanks: done that, not gonna do it again. Gas is non-negotiable for me…and lo! I did find one house that does have a gas stove. So that means somewhere up in there, they have gas service. Oh, yeah, here it is... The kitchen cabinets are just flat gawdAWFUL, but that can be remedied with a couple layers of paint. Just lookit that stove!

Now all I have to do is find THAT in a single-story house. Two stories: also a non-negotiable. Too bad. If it were one story, I’d be on the phone to the Realtor right this minute.

But it’s hopeful. I may ask my Realtor friends to keep an eye out for me.

Why didn’t I think of this?

Well, I know why: because I know Bob. ;-D

So…what next?

Okay, I know it’s utterly graceless to bring this up…but when Cassie shuffles off this mortal coil — which probably will happen within the next few days or even hours — then what am I gonna do?

Cassie had a very bad night — labored breathing, panting all night long (I know: I was awake listening to her). And she has decided eating is a thing of the past. She flat out refuses to eat. Yesterday I did get a 2½-ounce bottle of puréed baby-food turkey down her. But this morning, offered puréed chicken, she wouldn’t touch it. Even swallowing the mush seems to be difficult for her.

I’m trying to move tomorrow’s 8:30 a.m. veterinary appointment up to 11:30 this morning, which will mean I’ll miss the choir event I want to participate in this afternoon. My guess is the vet figures he’ll have to put her down, since nothing is helping her and I’m not in a position to spend thousands of dollars trying to revive a 12-year-old dog who’s probably on her last legs, no matter what we try to do.

For quite some time, I’ve had my eye on this dog. The rescue has had the pooch for awhile… And I do miss my German shepherds. That would be why I tend to revisit the GerShep rescue page. Do I want to apply for Lionel/Johnny? He’s a handsome fellow, about the right age, already house- and leash-trained. And white GerSheps tend to have better temperaments and overall better health than the horrifically overbred black-and-tan lines. No one wants white GerSheps because they tend not to bite and they’re not very threatening. 😉

Herein lies the issue: The whole matter of what happens after Cassie is gone represents a tangled mess of questions:

Should I stay in this house, or move now, while I still am physically able to do so?

The surrounding area is really not very safe, and the city seems to be actively working to trash the area, letting drug-addicted transients ride the Blightrail for free, dumping them off at the end of the line on Gangbanger’s Way, building yet another meth clinic in the neighborhood (the 24-hour one around the corner serves over two thousand hopheads a day!) and planning to trash Gangbanger’s Way by running the Blightrail west and east to planned terminuses in two ghost malls. This will bring even more crime and drug addicts than we already have, which is more than enough thankyouverymuch.

Consequently, I don’t feel especially safe here. The solution is the same solution that served well in the similarly besieged Encanto District, where my ex- and I lived for some 15 years until we threw in the towel because we had the unreasonable idea that our little boy should be able to play outdoors in relative safety. The solution: a German shepherd dog.

And, of course, a pistol. Got one. Don’t got the t’other. Yet.

On the other hand, the only other two places in the Valley where I can afford to live and that I think I wouldn’t hate are so far away from the centers of my social life that moving there would bring a screeching, permanent halt to my social life. I do not make friends easily (not by a long shot!) and so effectively this would mean the end of any activities outside the living room, the bedroom, and the backyard. Permanently.

Houses in the ‘Hood are affordable because of the increasingly dangerous slums along Conduit of Blight Boulevard and the meth gang’s territory north of Gangbanger’s Way. We form a kind of middle-class buffer zone between these increasingly creepy, declining areas and a very upscale district called North Central, where free-standing houses start, on the low end, at around 700 grand. The houses in this neighborhood, especially if they’ve been kept more or less up to date and in good repair, are twice as much house than you can buy for the same money elsewhere in the central Phoenix area — both in terms of size and in terms of quality.

Five hundred grand? SERIOUSLY????

Comparable houses (sort of) in the “Arcadia Lite” area, for example, run upwards of $500,000…and they’re NOT comparable: they’re older, smaller, and they don’t even have garages — they were built back in the day when it was safe to park your car in a carport.

Only two areas of the Valley offer housing that’s comparable to mine in a price range I can afford: Sun City and Fountain Hills. Sun City is halfway to freaking Barstow; Fountain Hills is halfway to freaking Payson! They’re both a long way from the people I know, the things I like to do, and the places I like to go. Ruby the Corgi would be placed at huge risk if I moved her to Sun City: the place is truly overrun with coyotes, which have been known to jump a six- or eight-foot back wall, grab a small dog, and fly back out of the yard with it before the human can budge. Fountain Hills also has coyotes — and the occasional bobcat. It also has ticky-tacky construction — the type where you consider a house “old” after ten years. Sun City has low property taxes, but it’s like living in a mausoleum. Fountain Hills would be like moving to another town altogether.

About an even trade…

So that leaves…well…stay here or move to Fountain Hills. This right here is about what I could afford in Fountain Hills. I hate it. I’ve always hated those stupid fake-arch windows that were the rage in cheap tract housing a few decades ago…and just look at that hideous stuff they put on the things! And one of Fountain Hills’ lesser charms is that it has no natural gas service, and so you’re stuck with those horrid glass-top stoves. Ugh. I’ve tried to learn to live with one of those things — Satan and Proserpine put one into this house. Loathed it: never could get used to it. Plumbed in a gas line and replaced the damn thing with a real stove. Though Fountain Hills has much to recommend it, the distance from activities and friends, the ticky-tacky architecture, and the all-electric kitchens add much to de-recommend it.

If we say that leaves one option — stay here — then we’re brought back to our starting point, where housing is concerned: this area is unsafe.

Next question: Assuming I stay here, should I get another German shepherd?

The sane answer is “hell, no!” Or…is it?

  About every third house in the ‘hood now houses a large dog, many of them mighty ferocious-looking. The reason for that is obvious: I’m not the only one who feels unsafe in an area overrun with drug-addicted transients, burglars, and car thieves. The only way the ex and I were able to stay in the Encanto district as long as we did was that we had Greta the German Shepherd, she who chased out a cat burglar at three one morning, who stood between me and a guy trying to break down my front door, who saved my child’s life twice, and who had the most preternatural sense of human nature I’ve ever seen in man nor beast.

Having lived with several GerSheps since then, I can attest that though none of them were Dog Geniuses in the sense that Greta was, all of them served as effective sh!thead deterrents. NO ONE bothers you when you have an animal like that standing at your side and glowering in their direction. But…

German shepherds are expensive to maintain. Although it’s likely that the white line will have fewer inbred health problems than the black-and-tan model, you can be sure that even a white GerShep will be a walking vet bill. A gun is far cheaper, over the long run. Though it doesn’t make for very good company…

I am getting to be an old lady. Chances are good a reasonably young dog will outlive me. Then what happens to it?

This Lionel/Johnny hound looks, in the group’s uninformative photos, to be about three years old, maybe as much as five. German shepherds typically live about nine to twelve years. In six years, I’ll be 79; in nine years, I’ll be 82 years old! Do I really want to have to deal with a sick 90-pound dog at that age? Would that even be possible?

Would a smaller dog have the same deterrent action, allowing me to feel safe living in my home? No. I already have another smaller dog: Ruby weighs all of 20 pounds. First: a yapper does nothing to discourage an accomplished burglar or a wacked-out meth addict. Second, a small dog cannot hold its own against a coyote — which our neighborhood also hosts, though not in such gay abandon as Sun City does — but a German shepherd most certainly can. And third, perps think little dogs are cute (or annoying), same as you and I do: they’re not deterred by a bouncy yapper.

Welp: no word from the vet’s office about taking the dog over there at 11:30 this morning. So I guess it’s off to choir for me. Time for a shower and a paint job…