Coffee heat rising

Grrrrrrrrr! Stop the freakin’ world….

So I go to cancel this morning’s physical therapy misery so as to spend the full day coping with the various crises that have come up, only to find that somehow it’s gotten moved from 10:30 in the morning to 1:45 in the afternoon.

Why? I’m sure I should recall, but I most decidedly do not. Because I can’t remember much of anything anymore…

Have ALL of the appointments been moved to the start of naptime? WHY???

Oh well. We can deal with that later. Much later.

Slept all the way through till 4 a.m. and so should not feel quite so zombified this morning. But just now all I want to do is go back to bed.

  • Not cope with the cleaning lady underfoot all day.
  • Not hassle with the weirdly busted computer, entailing an hour or more on the phone with the Apple techs
  • Not drive to the locksmith and order up a wildly expensive replacement for the security lock key the cleaning lady has lost…

No kidding: wildly expensive is it. Those things cost $15 or $20 to replace. So as you can imagine, I start the day feeling a little aggravated. The slope looks steeply downhill from here…

At least (claims she), the keys didn’t have my address attached to them (let’s hope to god she’s telling the truth!). Otherwise, I’d have to have the locks themselves replaced. One of these Medeco locks runs about $160….not including the cost of having the locksmith come to the house and install it.

The computer’s gone whacko, apparently because of a keyboard command I unwittingly entered. Normally you can click through from one window or page to another. But there’s a stupid setting whose appeal utterly escapes me that causes the thing to “sweep” from one window to the next with an effect like an old Kodak slide projector.

I find the effect annoying to the point of being grating. And I cannot for the life of me figure out how to make it stop, because I don’t know what cutesie appellation Apple has chosen to call it so I can’t look it up in the support documentation. So now I have to get on the phone to Apple and fart around, fart around, and fart around some more. Just what I want to do to fill up the morning.

The locksmith’s shop is to hell and gone in Glendale. Not that far, but still…one more PITA. I’ll have to wait til the C.L. gets here before I can leave, because of course in this neighborhood I can’t go off and leave the door unlocked.

This accursed LA-style city…ugh! Have I said how much I hate driving around this place? It just gets worse and worse, the more they build, they more they gentrify, the more they “improve.” Every change inflicts some new confusion…and every damn day seems to bring some new change.

Really, I should go up to Prescott and look at real estate. This place is driving me crazy.

But first, speaking of driving me crazy, I have to find a new hair stylist.

The other day I drove out to Shane’s to get the annoying new short hairstyle trimmed. That would be the one I was forced to get because I couldn’t comb my nearly waist-length hair with a broken shoulder in the way. Shane is a great stylist…but he charges 60 bucks a hit. So as you can imagine, having to cut my hair off in a cute little pixie was NOT what I want to do. Oh well.

He’s in Scottsdale. Has been for the past several years. So I start driving driving… Come to the touristy 5th Avenue section, find his street (3rd Avenue) and…and…and… The salon is not there.

Huh?

I drive around and around and around and AROUND old-town Scottsdale and

Can.

Not.

For.

The.

Life of me…

…find Shane’s place. Finally I give up and come home.

This damn hairstyle he created is yes, very curly and very cute…and it has a forelock that falls RIGHT INTO MY EYE. I can NOT make it stay out of my face — the only way to keep it from fukkin’ blinding me is to take a plastic hair roller clip thing and pin it up on my head.

Which as you can imagine looks spectacularly fashionable.

Drove back into town to make an appointment at the salon in the AJ’s shopping center, which…of course…you had to ask? Is not there anymore.

Tried to find my old stylist’s salon up by the west-side university campus.

Gone.

So now I have to start completely anew and find a stylist, by guess and by God. And by God, am I pissed about that.

Moving on, I decide to cut the physical therapy this morning so I can traipse to the locksmith’s shop whenever CL fnally shows up. Call there and find my appointment isn’t at 10:30: it’s at 1:45. We cut the number of sessions from three a week to two, and I think we must have changed the hour from morning to afternoon.

Which is NOT when I want to be flailing my arms and legs in the air, dammit! About 1:45 in the afternoon is about when I run out of gas and wanna lay down for an hour or two — especially after a night that has ended at 1:30 or 2:00 in the morning. I am effin’ TIRED by early afternoon and mostly just wanna go back to bed.  So this is an annoying development.

So. Back to the hair:

Seems to me I have two choices.

  • Find a stylist who can trim the forelock out of my eyes. Or…
  • Let it grow back out. And grow…and grow…and grow…

It will take three or four years for the hair to grow long again. Three or four years of shaggy awfulness. Or maybe four or five years… Plus of course there’s always the “what’s she trying to prove?” question. The truth is, I’m way too old to wear my hair down around my shoulders. By the time it gets there, for godsake, I’ll be 80 years old!

For godsake, it’s 9:30. Where IS that woman?

Welp! There’s an easy way to cause her to show up: Pick up the phone and get an Apple tech on the line…

Cheaper by far…

…to get wherever you’re going by riding Ol’ Paint. Whatever hay costs, it can’t be as much as gasoline!

No kidding: yesterday morning on the way to a dermatologist’s appointment, I darted into the new QT gas station that they stuck on the site where a landmark old gringo-Mexican restaurant had stood for many a year. The cheapest gas on offer was $2.95 a gallon!!

Augh! Makes driving all the way across the city to fill up at a Costco begin to make sense.

Maryvale: once a brave new world…

Had to buy gas because the junket to the dermatologist’s office is endless — halfway to freakin’ Yuma. There IS a Costco on the route home — marketing to business customers, not us hoi polloi — and it does have a gas station. Fortunately, I have a business membership. But…wasn’t absolutely sure I could make it all the way to hellandgone to Avondale and then about 2/3 of the way back into Phoenix on the amount of gas still in the tank. And believe me: you do NOT wanna be stuck in lovely Maryvale, hands-down the most threatening slum in the state.

Anyhow, the car is now stocked with a tank of low-test, which should suffice for another two or three weeks.

Think o’that: your basic three bucks a gallon for the lowest-octane stuff.

Eighty bucks to replace the CO/smoke detector that gave up the ghost. That was ducky, too.

No wonder i imagine i should have recourse to psychedelic drugs….arrrghhhh!

Speaking of the which, I found a peddler closer to home!

This joint (heh!) is right across the freeway, in a defunct shopping center. But that notwithstanding, heaven help us: the place delivers! Woo hoo! I’ve arrived in Junkie Nirvana!

****

Flew in through the doctor’s door as the clock rang 1 p.m.  My God what a horror show it is, driving in this freaking city! On the way out, as is not uncommon in Our Fine City, we all wound our way past a crash in a major intersection: two vehicles utterly totaled.

Red lights, you understand, do not apply to Arizona drivers. 😉

Derm didn’t seem to think the new lesions were anything to worry about. Froze them off. Et voilà: half the day blown away! Ain’t that ducky…Ain’t old age grand?

On the way back, I went into Metrocenter, where the cannabis dispensary mentioned above supposedly resides. Nary a sign of it. Turns out — I discovered after I got home and called to ask where they are — that they’re not IN Metrocenter: they’re on an outer fringe road ringing Metrocenter, next to the old Discount Tire.

Was that a strange experience!

Metrocenter is a ghost shopping center — a huge one. If I recall correctly, when it was built it was the largest enclosed mall in the country. That record didn’t stand long, of course…but still…it is a huge structure with dozens and dozens of stores and several large anchor tenants — Sears and Penney’s and Diamond’s (Dillard’s) and Goldwater’s and The Broadway. Two storeys, an ice-skating rink, a movie theater — it was quite a big deal. And it was a vibrant place: everybody went there to shop and to socialize. Now it’s just vacant, except for a bloated Walmart store.

It was kinda creepy to drive around in there. And sad. I wish they’d tear it down and build some other development in its place.

They’re going to run the light-rail boondoggle into the now mostly vacant parking lot, where presumably the bums will be made to get off…that being the future new end of the line. Said train riders come into our neighborhood to loaf and steal because the end of the line is now at the intersection of Conduit of Blight Blvd. and Gangbanger’s Way. If the bums are allowed to ride another few miles — across the freeway and into Metrocenter — then of course they’ll all swarm into the neighborhoods over there and lurk around the businesses in that area.

Once you’re in the area west of the I-17, you’re in a vast sprawl long neglected and indeed reviled by our City Parents, most of whom hail from affluent parts of town…far far away from the Great Unwashed of the West Side. Our August Leaders do not care about the property values and the well-being of the po’ folk who live west of Conduit of Blight…those tracts form a kind of a dust-bin for more affluent parts of the city. So I expect the bums will be given free run of the whole area.

If that’s what they’re going to do, then it would make sense to convert the vast, empty mall into housing, treatment facilities, and care for the homeless. The mall would be perfect for the purpose: dozens and dozens of little stores that could easily be converted into SROs; a built-in chow line; large spaces to use for meetings, job training, drug dry-out, or church proselytization; and office space to house social workers, psychologists, and cops. It’s the stupidest thing…why do city governments never seem to do obvious things that make obvious sense?

Ohhh well. When I got back into the ’Hood, some kind of weirdness was going on. On the east end of the alley, someone had left a vehicle in the middle of the street, midway between my house and the house behind me. No one was around. No one seemed to be in the alley. The car was just sitting there in the road. Cop helicopters were just arriving on the scene, buzzing the neighborhood in general.

Called the dog to the garage door, grabbed a shilelagh, walked through and inspected the house — no sign of entry. Chatted with WonderAccountant: she agreed that the car in the middle of the road was odd, but had seen nothing else out of the ordinary.

Eventually some guy came out of a house across the street, jumped in the oddly parked car, and trundled off.

In the Land of Pot…

Well, that was an interesting experience.

VickyC, her son D, and I made a run on the marijuana dispensary that has sprung up in the Lowe’s parking lot, just down the road from the Great Desert University’s west campus. Though I’ve been in a number of stores in the hippy-dippy mode, I’ve never visited a real, dyed-in-the-wool, hard-core head shop. Man!

They had that place zipped up, down, backward and forward with security. As soon as you walk in the door, they grab your driver’s license and enter all its details into their computer. You do have the option of refusing to give them your phone number, but that is it. Also, these outfits take cash only. No paper trail as to who bought what, when…

The customers, all of them male, looked like normal enough persons. No hippy-dippy aspirations to “style” — they looked mostly like ordinary office workers. But they all spoke the jargon, which is extensive enough that when those for whom it is mutually intelligible take up the subject of cannabis they sound a lot like they’re speaking a foreign language.

We each got a potted…uhm, pot plant. They were not cheap: $20 or $30 apiece. However, VickyC estimates you get about $100 worth of the product off of a single plant. So…it will be interesting to see how that works out.

As we were driving around, our fellow homicidal drivers, a.k.a. The Morons, were out in force. On the way back toward the ’Hood, one fruitcake on a motorcycle swerved into D’s lane right on his front bumper. The clown missed being churned into clown butter by about eight inches. THEN…he did it again!!!!! After Dustin laid on the horn…

Another guy, this one in a car (at least he had some armor around him) also damn near hit us. He was smoking up as he drove, clearly stoned out of his head. Lovely.

Both these incidents occurred on Conduit of Blight Blvd, a fine thoroughfare to avoid at all costs.

At any rate, the little plant, which apparently belongs to a variety called “Banana,” is still in its pot, sitting on the side deck. The wind was really wailing when we got back here, and I didn’t much feel like wrestling with potting soil and water and whatnot in a gale. By sunset, the weather had settled some, but I still didn’t much feel like potting the thing and trying to figure out where to put it. Today…well…

This morning bright & early I have to traipse out to the Mayo…a return visit to the orthopod. Not happy about this: I’m really not feeling at all well…the pain, I guess, is just wearing me down. And I expect a major, MAJOR hassle. Getting parked out there with all the ongoing construction is a gawdawful headache. That’s after driving way to hell and gone up there, which as you can imagine from my description of yesterday’s road antics, is never a fun experience.

The shoulder hurts all the time, and I’m extraordinarily tired of hurting all the time. The joint is now mostly pretty mobile…if you call a stab of pain when you reach your arm up to comb  your hair or take a coffee cup out of a cabinet “mobility.”

To complicate matters, La Maya is in town and wants to get together for lunch. I very much doubt if I’ll be back here much before noon…or even by noon. So just now we’re circling round and round about that. {sigh}

But if she’s here and wanting to trot out to some restaurant, it will delay the pot potting escapade that much more.

Heh heh…I have had exactly nothing to say to my son about said escapade. You may be sure that when he sees that thing in the yard, he will have a sh!t-f!t of Olympean proportions… Conveniently, Gerardo showed up here earlier in the day, so I won’t have to listen to his commentary on my criminal career for at least another month. 😀

Time to turn out of the sack and start getting ready for the day’s hassles…

Thank you, Amazon…

Shopping at Amazon can be pricey. But if you attach a dollar value to your time (something I could justify a lot better when I was getting paid for more of my time…), it is very much worth it. Especially, I imagine, if you live in a city like Phoenix, where you put your life on the line every time you venture out into the homicidal traffic.

My venerable kitchen-sink scrub brush broke apart the last time the Cleaning Lady from Heaven was here. I need one of those…all the time. But hafta say…trudging off to a grocery store that carries them has NOT been what I want to do. AJ’s, my favorite venue for fresh produce and incidental groceries, does not carry hardware-store types of products. This is largely true of Sprouts, too. Costco has some of that kind of stuff, but decidedly not kitchen scrub-brushes. Albertson’s no doubt has them, but risking life and limb to walk across that store’s parking lot is counterproductive. Do I really want to make a special trip to a Safeway, a Fry’s, or an Albertson’s in a better part of town to buy…what? A plastic brush?

Well. No.

So I’ve put it off, largely because I tend to forget about it when I’m not standing at the sink. And of course because I feel uninclined to schlep all over the city for the sake of one, count it (1) cheesy item.

But lo! Have no fear! Amazon carries the things, in gay profusion.

Got two of those gadgets in the picture for seven bucks. I kinda doubt that Albertson’s will be selling them for much less than three or four bucks apiece.

Nay verily! At Albertson’s an identical model is $4.59 apiece!!

Between Amazon and Instacart, delivery services have saved me so much mileage that the monthly cost of gasoline here at the Funny Farm has gone way down. I hardly ever buy gas anymore — maybe once every two or three months. The only trips that consume much gas anymore are the endless jaunts to doctors, of which I am mightily sick&tired. If I didn’t have to run to a doctor or a dentist every time I turn around, I would hardly be buying any gasoline at all.

And that savings more than makes up for the extra cost of ordering something online and paying to have someone deliver it to your door.

Interestingly, too…the change of habits occasioned by the Plague and its lockdowns has cut back my driving habits to the point that it probably would make some sense to buy an electric vehicle. Before this, it would have made no sense at all…because I was driving hither, thither, and yon constantly through traffic and over roads that demand the vigor of a six-banger. I went out in the car almost every day. Now, though, I hardly ever drive. If I didn’t have to run to these damn doctors every time I turn around — and traipse to the physical therapist three times a week — I might not be taking that car out of the garage more than two or three times a month. If it were safe to walk down Conduit of Blight to the Sprouts and the Albertson’s (it decidedly is not!), the truth is that I could get by comfortably without a car.

The trick would be to rent a vehicle when one is necessary. Or use Uber, if one were so inclined.

DXH and I had neighbors who liked to visit Las Vegas with another couple. Two or three times a year they’d all pile into a car and drive up there. But to our initial amazement, they didn’t pile into one of their cars. They always rented a vehicle to drive across the desert.

This made a great deal of sense. For one thing, if you got in an accident, you didn’t crash your own car, thereby eliciting the enormous hassles and expenses so entailed. For another, they weren’t racking up mileage gratuitously on their own vehicles…and that, you no doubt have noticed, helps to keep your car insurance rates down. And for the third: our houses had carports, not garages equipped with doors that closed behind your car. So if you drove off in your car for a weekend in Nevada, that would be spectacularly obvious to the local burglars, who would quickly understand that you weren’t home and weren’t likely to be home anytime soon.

Whaddaya think? Do we really need these expensive gas-guzzlers anymore?

Historic perambulations

Dawn spreads its glowing veil over a spectacular day: clear blue skies, bright sun, and cool air. Temp is about 68; expected to max out at 70. Sooo….along about mid-morning the hound and I set out for a lengthy stroll.

She, of course, wishes to go to the park. So…OK. Off we go to the park and then a block past it to South Tony Realms Drive, a lane that runs between Feeder Street North/South and Main Drag West, proceeding through a neighborhood that could be called Old Money. The houses, most of them on third- to half-acre lots, were built in the 1950s and maybe the early 60s. It’s quite a lovely neighborhood with irrigated lawns (irrigation is really about the only way even rich people can afford lawns anymore) and nicely maintained brick or block homes. As you might imagine, a third or a half an acre of affordable grass is in high demand, and so a lot of those places are being fixed-and-flipped. We saw three in the process, there in about three blocks of side streets.

It’s interesting how eccentric the neighborhood is, in a low-key way. For one thing, at least three sections consist of what I’d call “semi-custom houses.” That is, you can tell they were installed by the same builder using a sort of…oh, builder’s template, maybe. But they’re not recognizably the same model in the way the houses here in the ’Hood are. The ’Hood is a later vintage — early 1970s. Other parts of the neighborhood — which are in high demand now — were built out in the late 1950s. This whole area was out in the country in those days: cotton fields and citrus orchards.

My part of the area is a tract that was started by a couple of brothers who were prominent builders here, Hugh and Frank Knoell (pron. “k’NELL”). Theirs was the same company that built out Sun City, and the houses are very similar: uninsulated cement block structures with unassuming front elevations, all of them looking much the same. I’d say there are maybe a half-dozen different floor plans and elevations, though a couple of nearly identical elevations are attached to floor plans that are different on the inside. Something terrible happened and Knoell went out of business when they were about halfway through building out the tract. Knoell sold to another builder, who finished the job, so that part of the tract is subtly different…but not enough so you could tell unless you knew about it.

To the north of my part of the ’Hood stands a smaller tract of contemporaneous classic Southern California style. It’s a lower-rent area, and the houses are Pure Anaheim. Which is about as bourgeois as a residential structure can get. 😀

For reasons unclear to me, the area to the south and east of the park (which at the time was not a park but rather a sheep pasture) was more upscale. Beverly Hills it ain’t….but the houses are large and occupy lots ranging from about a third to maybe a half an acre. Most of them are apparently custom or “semi-custom” homes, all but a couple of them sprawling single-story ranchers. No two of these places seem to be the same.

But the weird thing is…they’re not all vast sprawling monuments to their original owners’ egos. Some of them are quite large. But a few really are no bigger than my house. Apparently some people wanted to live in relatively small homes — less upkeep, presumably — but with lots of elbow room between the neighbors.

At one point along the line, after I’d moved into my first house here, much closer to Conduit of Blight, I looked at an open house over in that older area….more out of curiosity than with any idea of actually buying it. It faced on the park, a circumstance that was considered a marvel of luxury. It was a little large for my taste — for one person and a dog, you don’t need to live in a hotel. But the thing that was a jaw-dropper was that it still was using a septic tank!!!!!

Not surprisingly, in a way: by the 1950s, this area was still out in the country. Encanto Drive — smack in the middle of what is now considered the “historic” central city — was the city limit: about 7 miles from here. But as the sewer system expanded, most people connected with the city lines. I think it was free (read, “paid for by your property taxes”) at the time. Someone was either real cheap or real suspicious of Big Gummint! 😀

Dog is campaigning for an evening doggy walk. Away!

The Walking History Archive

Have you ever noticed how weird it is when you’ve lived in a neighborhood for so long that you remember the people-before-the-people-before-the-people who now live in this or that house?

Honestly. Sometimes I feel like I’m a creature from another century. Which, come to think of it, I am!

This morning the Hound and I strolled through a small tract just to the south of us. Those houses have traditionally been more expensive than the newer (but now “vintage”) slump-block houses of our tract, though we’re catching up fast. But young people are moving in there and fixing those places up, too, adorning the walls with lots of eye-searing white, prison gray, and charcoal black paint. And the houses respond well: some of them look very nice, indeed.

Case in point: a house on the corner of a little neighborhood lane that debouches into the park.

I seriously considered buying that house, at the time SDXB and I were engaged in battle with the Romanian Landlord (aka The Perp). It had separate mother-in-law quarters, a spacious apartment with everything a guest or an elderly parent would like to have. My idea was…I would buy the house. SDXB and I would sell our houses up here and move in there. He would have the MiL quarters to use as he pleased: as his man cave or his office or his own private apartment, whatever. It’s a very pleasant house in a very pleasant neighborhood.

Only obvious drawback was that it wasn’t far enough away from the Perp, for our lawyers’ taste.

SDXB is chronically armed to the teeth. I’m not exactly defenseless myself, plus at the time I roomed with a very large, very menacing German shepherd who didn’t take no flak from no-one, not even a half-baked Romanian mafioso. But that notwithstanding, he absorbed the lawyers’ hysteria and betook himself to Sun City. I, having been there and done that, declined to go along, so stayed right where I was. And still am.

But nevertheless, that house had a genuine, nonimaginary drawback: its history, one that you’d think would make it hard to sell.

It had belonged to a couple who had a young child, a little boy. The dad was a cop.

One day the man came home and set his service revolver down on the coffee table. What would possess you, I can’t even begin to imagine…but yep! That’s what he did. Little boy came along when the parental backs were turned, found the gun, and picked it up to play with it. It discharged and shot the child in the gut.

He survived, surprisingly enough, but the slug ripped his intestines apart. He would have to wear a bag on his belly for the rest of his life.

The marriage, not at all surprisingly, could not withstand any such event. The couple divorced and disappeared into the Naked City. Another couple came along, lived there for a year or two, and by the time of the Perp Adventure were themselves moving on — that’s why the house was on the market.

We decided against buying it.

SDXB moved to Sun City.

Anna the GerShep chased the Perp’s would-be revenging son-in-law off and so terrorized the poor man he ended up sitting in his driveway sobbing. She and I were never bothered by that tribe again.

Animosities ceased after I rescued the Perp’s grand-daughter from a vicious dog that attacked her, by getting her and her puppy atop a mailbox stanchion and then facing down the damn dog…which was no less cowardly, really, than the son-in-law. 😀

I can walk through this whole area and remember a lot about the people who have lived in any given house over the years. I’m an ambulatory local history journal, I guess.