Coffee heat rising

Brave New World, Indeed…

Sunnyslope rock garden, one of the many eccentric sights in those parts

{snort!} Living in a place where you need to have heavy-duty deadbolts on all the exterior doors AND, while you’re at it, on the back bedroom that serves as your office is for the birds. Not to say a PITA. This state of affairs is hugely exaggerated by encroaching senility: you can’t remember your name, to say nothing of what all the fistful of keys are for.

First off, I misplaced my key ring, the one with the keys to all the exterior doors, the mailbox, the garage side door, the car’s ignition, the car’s doors, on and on: SEVEN KEYS!

You realize, I have to have all seven keys. Otherwise I can’t get into my house, I can’t drive my car, I can’t get into my office, I can’t unlock the yard gate padlocks, I can’t get into the garage…on and on and endlessly, aggravatingly on.

They couldn’t have gone far. I knew I hadn’t left the house since the last time I saw the monster keyring. But “far”and “near” are basically the same when you haven’t a clue where something is.

Finally found them. Added the mailbox key to the key ring. Put them down. A-n-n-d…lost them again!






No matter how trivial or how significant.

This stuff is getting very frustrating and very scary. What else have I forgotten…well….

  • Have I paid the bills this month?
  • Have I gone into battle to figure out where a spurious bill of something over 5 grand came from?
  • Have I refilled the gas tank?
  • Have I fed the dog?
  • Have I walked the dog?
  • Did I water the plants?
  • Where’s my grocery list?
  • What groceries do I need?
  • Where did I decide to get gasoline, since Costco is now kinda out of the question?

Yes. Get gas. One of the consequences of deciding to quit arguing with Costco over their annoying shopper card is that one has to find some other station to refil the gas tank.

Headed westward out of the ‘Hood , by way of visiting the credit union and thence the high-voltage Sprouts out by the university, I stopped in a Circle K gas station. HO-lee mackerel!

You forget how creepy this part of town is.  A panhandler is stumbling around the gas station — fortunately he doesn’t importune me. A weird guy is also wandering through. The damn gas pump tells me I have to go inside to untangle some kind of mess.

Dodge the weirdos, get into the Circle K, and am told, no, nooo, nothing is wrong, all is well.

On my way, wondering WHAT is going to show up on next month’s AMEX statement.

Trudging across the city toward the ASU West campus and its branch of the credit union, I notice an odd thing: Once I get a couple of main drags past the freeway, I see many, many fewer transients and panhandlers. They cluster around the freeway overpasses and the signals a few blocks on either side, but once you reach about 35th Avenue…well… Nary a bum!

WTF? I never noticed that before. There’ve always been transients along that route…everywhere.

Not today. No one standing at the intersections, set to pester you when you stop at a red light. No one pushing stolen grocery baskets full of their worldly goods up the sidewalk. The mile-on-mile tracts of bland, cheaply built working-class and middle-class housing over there are effectively FREE of transients!

I will say, that has not always been the case. If you’d asked me before today, I’d have told you the population of panhandlers was pretty constant between here and the campus, especially the further south you go on the west side. But today…where were all the bums?

In our neighborhood, that’s where! 😀

Brought back to the repeating rumination that if it weren’t for my son’s strenuous objection, I would would be OUT of the ‘Hood by now. Long gone. The dust shaken from my high-heels. Never to be seen again!

Ohhhh well.

West-side errands completed, I cruise eastward, ever eastward across Thunderbird, a main drag that proceeds all the way west across the Valley from somewhere in Paradise Valley or Scottsdale to the sprawl out by the Air Force base, halfway to Yuma. Drop south on 19th and then, to avoid some of the heavier traffic and also to sight-see a bit, cut through Sunnyslope, a historic slum.

Sunnyslope has always been fairly dank, but as the years pass it merges into dire. More than a slum, it’s a central Mexico barrio brought north. It’s hard to imagine poverty of such depth in this country. Yet…there it is. People living in lean-to’s cobbled together with boxes and old boards nailed together. Ancient apartments that look like crumbling fire-traps. Once cute little houses tumbling down into the dust. And dust is what it is: precious few lots have grass ($$$) or gravel ground cover.

That notwithstanding, the staidly middle-class ‘Hood itself is officially regarded as part of Sunnyslope. This would be the result of canny map-drawing by our city parents, who have divided the burg into so-called “villages.”

Har har! Normal folks would call those “districts.” But whatever works for your PR campaign works. I guess.

Historically, Sunnyslope was a TB refuge. Until antibiotics were developed, about all doctors could do when you developed tuberculosis was advise you to betake yourself to a warm, dry climate. Arizona has plenty of that, and it was to provide the same that Sunnyslope came into its own. But of course, if you’re at death’s door with a lung infection, you’re not in any shape to found and build a business or to take on a steady job. So a lot of that population sank into poverty. And the poverty has remained.

So now it’s where your yard dude and your cleaning lady live.

Gerardo the Yard Dude lives in Sunnyslope…he’s sending his Eagle Scout son off to the UofA this fall. Not bad, eh? He and his clan — cousins, wives, mothers — own a row of houses up there, so the whole clan has cordoned off its territory.

Things, I suspect, could be worse.




Online! It’s a miracle…

Been offline for a few days, thanks to some kind of screwy computer thing. Noooo idea what it was.  A Best Buy tech came over the afternoon and banged around and banged around —  very rushed, obviously running late and overworked. He seems to have gotten the thing working again. We’ll find out soon enough.

Meanwhile, the Human crashed, too: fell into the sack around 7 p.m., a ridiculously early hour. But I was sooooo tired I just couldn’t stay awake another minute after we got back from the evening doggy-walk.

Come 8:30, the Human is awakened by a familiar melody: urp urp urp urp urp a-a-a-a-a-a-c-k!

The chorus: Ohhh godDAMMIT!!!!!!!!!

Dog barfs all over the bed.

Fortunately, the Human has smartened up a little bit over the years: to keep the dog hair off the bedding, we lay a splendidly washable knock-off serape over the quilt. Exactly like this one, as a matter of fact. We have several of them, in various gaudy patterns…and the one Ruby defiled a few minutes ago is now running through the washer. Mwa ha ha!

The hour is still ridiculously early as we scribble: 8:47 p.m.

My belly feels like there’s a rock in it, speaking of bilious bellies.

Kulawahed, though. It looks like the MacBook is back online. At least it seems to be downloading the email. We’ll find out when we go to upload this post.

Come dawn, I’ve got to pay American Express…at least I think so. A $5500 bill came wafting in (!!!). Was going to have WonderAccountant help figure out what caused that, but at this point I just can NOT deal with any more conundrums. My plan is to pay it and then just not charge ANYTHING for the next couple of months.


We’ll see how THAT goes, eh?

So much paper has piled up on the tables, though, it’ll be a God’s Miracle if I can find the damn bill. But I’ll deal with that tomorrow.

Meanwhile, cruising the national and local gnus…

CAN you believe Americans voted this ogre into the effing White House? One who thinks he has a right to insult and cuss out everyone around him?

Welp. We’ve failed to educate our people, and this is what we get for our non-efforts: grown men and women who don’t know any better. My apologies if you’re one of those who was suckered into voting for the guy…but the truth is, THAT thing is not now and never was Presidential material.

Then we have the lovely local gnus: I was up in this area just a few days ago, very likely as this woman was being murdered. The cops claim to have caught the perp…but how that could be possible escapes one.

Hiking around the local mountain parks — a popular activity among the fit set — is riskier than it looks. Not only because you can slip and fall, requiring the cops to come extricate you with a helicopter, but because of this sort of thing. A surprising number of creeps are crawling around out there. I was hiking on a trail near North Mountain, when I noticed some guy following me by a couple hundred yards. When I tried to dodge him, he followed. Managed to hop down into a little arroyo where the trail curved around a little hill. Slipped off my bright blue back back, tossed it in a ditch, and hunkered down on top of it, hiding under a creosote bush.

Sure enough, along he came. I could see him stop and peer all over the area, searching for me. After about ten minutes of eyeballing the landscape, he turned around and headed back in the direction he came.

Thank God!

I don’t go out there alone anymore. And no, little Cassie is not enough dog to negate the “alone” definition: in the Dog Department, you’ve got to have something the size of a German shepherd. Best not something that looks like a lovable golden retriever, either.

Ugh! The 21st Century…what a time we live in! What a place we live in!

Speaking of the which, it looks like the city is going to try to spiff up the defunct Metrocenter Mall, once the largest shopping center in the land. It’s abandoned now.

Heh heh…good luck with that, folks…

With its acre on acre on acre of (now empty) parking lots, it will be a major stopping place for the new lightrail system: one end of the line, at least for awhile.

This, we can only hope, will carry the bums on out of our neighborhood, dropping them in someone else’s lap.

Just now the end of the line for the damn lightrail is right here at the top of the ‘Hood, about four blocks north of the Funny Farm. The bums ride for free — no tickets are required to get into a car, so all you have to do is step into a car and then, if you see a cop getting on at a stop (there are no conductors — clever, eh?), hop off before he can ask to see a ticket. Then just hop back on the next train that comes along.

So the ‘Hood is overrun with drug-addicted derelicts, just deee-lightful. Another good reason to carry a pistol when you go out. 😉

Seriously: that’s why I wouldn’t even think of walking to the nearby grocery stores or Walgreen’s. You’d be nuts to do that.

Anyway, if the accursed lightrail carries the bums, the pickpockets, and the rapists all the way up to Metrocenter, our neighborhood may get a little safer. Maybe.

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…..

Dog Back; Human Unraveled

Whew! WHAT a Day from Hell!

If you’re ever (un)fortunate enough to land in (un)lovely Phoenix, remember this survival tip: never, EVER drive around this exquisite city in the rush hour. And bear in mind that evening rush hour extends from about 3 p.m. to something after 6 p.m. Morning? Make it 7 a.m. to 9:00 a.m. At least.

Y’know, I hated living in Southern California: crowded, crass, ego-driven, ticky-tacky junky dumps every which way you turned. Shopping was annoying, time-wasting, and often fruitless. People were so focused on themselves they didn’t even notice the other humans around them. Driving was a horrid, hectic, miserable hassle. Neighborhoods were bland, faceless grody collections of ticky-tacky apartments and cheaply built houses.

Chez Pitz.

Welp. Gotta say: I feel approximately the same about this place. The only difference between Phoenix and unlovely Long Beach is that Phoenix gets one helluva lot hotter in the summertime. In all other respects, the two garden spots echo each other when it comes to the…uhm…graces of living. Dump A and Dump B: one smeared up and down the Pacific Coast, the other oozing across the Sonoran Desert.

Started out the day perusing real estate online, briefly. Just in the past few months, housing prices have exploded.

We have, for example, this garden spot. The place is smaller than my house. Jammed closer to the neighbors. And when you come down to it, situated in a neighborhood that’s about the same as mine in terms of quality, economics, social class, and crime rates. The thing is on the market for a good $200,000 more than my place is worth (Zillow claims my house is worth $540,500…and here I thought I paid way too much at 235 grand…). That would be because it’s located in darkest Arcadia, rather than on the top end of North Central. It’s been on the market for two hundred and sixteen days and still hasn’t sold.

That, I would offer, suggests the asking price is WAY too high.

First thing this morning it was off to the vet’s, there to get her smelly teeth worked on. The vet is way to Hell & Gone over in the Arcadia Lite district, a good 30-minute drive under the best of conditions. Make it 40 to 50 minutes in the accursed rush hour.

Leave the poor terrorized little dog there. Traipse back home, still navigating the horrific morning rush-hour traffic, and mope around all day in the absence of my furry friend. Worry, worry, and worry some more about a) the state of the pooch’s health and b) the staggering amount I figure Dr. Bracken is going to charge for yanking rotten teeth and scraping the rest of them clean, presumably under full anaesthetic.

Back at the Funny Farm, wrestle with the finances, wrestle with the busted garage door, wrestle with the pool, fart around fart around fart around fart around. Study real estate ads, thinking…really…I do need to get away from the accursed Tony situation. Calculate how I could buy a new house without cluing the bastard to where I’ve moved. Not difficult, really. 😉

Waste an inordinate amount of time on these and similar ventures.

Along about mid-day, call — yes, I can come get the dog.

Back into the traffic, this time plugging into the early afternoon rush hour (wherever you need to turn left, you can’t!). Drive and drive and drive and drive and…and…huh?

OVERSHOOT the street where the vet’s office resides.


Now I’m LOST in darkest Arcadia.

Drive around drive around drive around drive around…can NOT FIND HIS STREET!

Pull into a parking lot, walk into a business, and ask them if they know where Meadowbrook (his street) is. They do not. They pull out a cell phone, look it up, and decide I prob’ly passed it some blocks to the north. This: puzzling, since their phone seems to be showing the map in an east-west layout.

Drive around drive around drive around drive around…STILL cannot find his street!

This is weird, because I’ve been going to this vet for a good 20 years (with a hiatus or three) and yes, I DO know where Meadowbrook Drive is.

Go into another shop. This place is close enough that the clerk can say…oh, yeah: it’s three streets up that way.

Drive around drive around…FINALLY find the vet’s place.

All this driving around is happening as the afternoon oozes on and the traffic thickens. And thickens. And thickens.

Retrieve the little dog. Staff tells me not to feed her and not to let her drink too much water.

Right. Don’t know much about corgis, do ya?

Amazingly, though…unlike the avaricious vet here in our part of town, the one who proposed to extract several of Ruby’s teeth, to the tune of something over a thousand bucks, Dr. Bracken has not yanked out even ONE of Ruby’s fangs…all of which are now shiny and white.

Drive and drive and drive and drive and drive, the better part of 45 minutes: through heavier and heavier traffic, dodging up side routes I happen to know about, admiring the very expensive and fancy real estate in Paradise Valley (is there any way I could afford one of these palaces?), scrabbling past a couple of chronically congested intersections…at last, make it into the ‘Hood.

Get the dog out of the car. She is PARCHED. Let her drink some water but try to keep her from drowning in it. Not an easy task.

Refrain from feeding the dog. Piss off the dog.

Reheat some left-over grocery-store pasta…bolt that down. Yech. Why DO Americans eat this stuff?

Reflect on how horrible Southern California was as a place to live in the late 1950s, early 1960s. Reflect on how much lovely Phoenix has come to resemble that scene. Want to go someplace else.

Anywhere else.

Looking Forward (NOT!) to Another Lovely Day in Uptown Phoenix

Ugh! This is gonna be a horrible day.

Up, as usual, at 2 in the morning with old-lady insomnia. Kinda sorta got back to sleep, dozing lightly on and off, around 4 a.m. Then up at 6 a.m. to drive the Ruby the Corgi to the vet, there to have her teeth (expensively!) cleaned. Have to leave here around 7 to get there “between 8 and 9.”

This guy is the best vet in town, IMHO. If anyone will do her teeth without ripping me off, this guy will. But…



Her teeth stink, indicating she has a gum infection. Her mouth is so narrow, it’s impossible for me to use the contraptions they’d like one to use to clean a dog’s teeth. So yes. Her teeth no doubt are very dirty. Yes. To clean her teeth you have to anesthetize her to knock her out, a spectacularly expensive step that is just Step 1. And yes. He no doubt will have to pull out some of her teeth. So yes. This is going to be a bank-busting day.

La Maya and La Bethulia have a pair of mini-dachshunds. That breed also has a long, narrow muzzle…just like a corgi’s. The “long narrow” part is the operative issue. The mouth is so small and so tight, you can’t get a gadget in there to clean the dog’s teeth…especially not when the dog puts up the Fight from Hell every time you try.

I had stopped taking Ruby to Dr. Bracken (best vet in town) because his office is in the Arcadia district — a LONG way from the crime-ridden fringe of Sunnyslop, where we live. It’s an unpleasant drive under the best of circumstances. But during the rush hour? Ohhhhhh gawd!

To get there requires turning left out of the ‘Hood onto a main or semi-main drag. But Our Honored City Parents have set up all the major north-south routes out of here so that YOU CAN’T TURN LEFT DURING THE RUSH HOUR!

So, before I even reach the Arcadia district (where you may be sure that once again I’ll get lost), I’ll have to drive around and around and around and around Robin Hood’s Barn just to turn east in his direction.

Yes. To turn east out of the’Hood, you have to turn right, then turn right again, then turn right a fourth time. You have to overshoot the main drag that you need travel on. Go down to the next through street. Turn in the opposite direction from the way you need to travel. Then at the next main drag turn right in the direction from which you came. Then turn right onto the first north/south road. Then turn right again onto the desired main drag. Once you’re headed eastward, then you just sit back and drive and drive and curse and drive and drive.

It’s a bitch of a process, and not one I’m looking forward to.

If I have to pick her up at any time after 4 p.m. (i.e., during the afternoon rush hour), I’ll have to repeat the process.

And THAT is why I quit going to Dr. B. and hooked up with La Maya’s vet.

Well. Every time those women took their dachshunds to that vet, the woman was wanting to knock them out and clean their teeth. And every time she cleaned their teeth, she extracted some more teeth. And every time she did that, she presented them with a thousand-dollar bill!

No kidding. Every time you turned around, it seemed, La Maya was getting another thousand-dollar hit upside the head from that woman.

Fine when you both have decently paying jobs.

I, however, am now “retired”: another term for “unemployed.”  And I can NOT afford bills like that. So, as I will explain to Dr. B when I see him this morning, locking me into a cycle like that is going to mean I’ll have to put Ruby to sleep.

And that, I do NOT want to do.

So one of the highlights of this horrible day is going to be BEGGING him not to bankrupt me with the doggy dental gambit. And of course since vets have their own bills to pay, I’m not gonna get far with that.

Welp…it’s getting late. Better get up and start getting ready for the Endless Drive…

Where Ya Gunna Go?

So I’m visiting the Albertson’s down at the corner of Conduit of Blight and Main Drag South. Normally I won’t go in there because I don’t enjoy being panhandled in the parking lot (once I had a bum actually chase me, at a dead run, across the parking lot). Yesterday, though, I wanted a roll of masking tape and, the Albertson’s being a huge general store as well as a grocery store, figured I could find it there.

Plus the store (or maybe the mall owner) has hired an armed guard, who’s posted outside the market’s front door. So I feel fairly confident that if I park close to the front door and walk directly in — and do not carry a purse slung over my shoulder! — I’m probably going to get in and out with a minimum of pestering.

My father would’ve liked that Albertson’s. Because it’s fairly huge, it carries a vast array of products, from pharmaceuticals and personal care products, to house and auto care products, to…of all things…food. But I can tell you for sure he wouldn’t have shopped there, because of the number of black folks who habituate the place. He was, as he liked to crow, “a bigot and proud of it.” The vast blocks of working-class apartments across the street are very similar to the ones where we lived in Southern California…well, except for the black folks. My mother would’ve been outta there like a rocket the instant the first dusky face surfaced. Whereas my father openly bragged about his expertise as a hater, my mother generally kept her mouth shut about her bigotries. But like him, she also lived by them. She wouldn’t have moved into our lily-white neighborhood because of the number of African-Americans dwelling right across the huge main drag that separates the ‘Hood  from the apartment blocks up here.

So as suggested, my father would’ve loved that store…it would have appealed to his workin’class genes. But my mother?… She probably would have thought of it as I do: fine in a pinch, but lacking in some aspects that one would like to have for shopping on a regular basis. Nevertheless, neither of them would have shopped there (or lived here, we might add…) because of the number of black folks among the customers.

My problem with that store, though, is that even though it’s huge and even though it carries most things you’d like to have, its offerings are kinda boring. Prepared foods are by and large additive-laced schlock. AJ’s, it is not. And…if there’s something you want right now and you went there because you were pressed for time and didn’t want to drive halfway to Timbuktu to get it at a Walmart or the Safeway, you can be sure they won’t have it.

On this particular trip, what I wanted was a roll of masking tape.

How hard is this? Masking tape.

Searched from pillar to post.

No masking tape. Picked up a couple of incidental items, though — a chunk of cheese, some fresh produce. But having found no masking tape I was flying down an aisle toward the checkout where…hallelujah! There on a bottom-most shelf next to the floor was one, count it (1) roll of masking tape. Not the blue type that I favor. But was I going to drive across the city to score a role of BLUE masking tape?


Out the door, much relieved not to have to schlep to the paint store.

Albertson’s armed guard lurks outside the door, where he oversees the customers’ and the bums’ comings and goings. This is a considerable improvement — in fact, it is THE reason I will go into that store these days. Once a panhandler actually chased me across the parking lot there, at a dead run. With a hired cop-like creature out front, that kind of thing is a lot less likely to happen.

Though…well…yeah. The last time I was there they had a shooting in that parking lot, in front of the block of buildings that houses the T-Mobile store.

Guess you can’t have everything, hm?

Key Shopping Accessory