Coffee heat rising

Fridge Fantasia!

The Saga of the Singing Refrigerator gets ever more fantastic.

A fine and handsome refrigerator repairman came galloping in on his white charger yesterday morning. Not only was he pleasant to look at, he was very smart and quickly solved the problem.

Turns out a flap of plastic along the bottom of the unit’s back side had worked loose. One screwdriver was all it took to tighten the damn thing down, and voilà!  Buzzing, humming, banging racket GONE.

CAN you believe that?

It cost me $95 to fix it.

He didn’t seem to disapprove of the vendor, B&B Appliances, as much as I now do. But he did allow as to how it’s pretty evident that the unit was not brand-new, as alleged. He thought it had probably been run for awhile and then returned to the store.

Yeah. Waddaya bet it was returned because of the racket it was making?

Its motor still runs loud. But it sounds like normal motor noise, not some sort of loose screw.

Y’know…I’m an old bat and I’ve had a lot of refrigerators over my lengthy lifetime. Hm. Let’s think about that…

> Parents’ house: beach house outside of Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia
> Parents house: portable house in camp, Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia
> Parents’ house: block house in camp, Ras Tanura, Saudi Arabia
> Great-grandmother’s house, Berkeley, California
> Parents’ apartment: San Francisco, California
> Parents’ next apartment: San Francisco, California
> Parents’ apartment: Long Beach, California
> Parents’ next apartment: Long Beach, California
> Parents house: Sun City, Arizona
> My & my room-mate’s apartment: Tucson, Arizona
> My apartment: Tucson, Arizona
> My apartment: Phoenix, Arizona
> Husband’s and my apartment: Phoenix, Arizona
> Husband’s and my first house: Phoenix, Arizona
> Husband’s and my second house: Phoenix, Arizona
> My next apartment: Phoenix, Arizona
> My apartment downtown: Phoenix, Arizona
> My next house: Phoenix, Arizona
> My present house: Phoenix, Arizona

Hmmmm…. That’s NINETEEN refrigerators! Oh, no: make that TWENTY. We lived in our house downtown long enough to buy a second refrigerator.

And this thing in the kitchen now is the only one that ever emanated weird noises. For whatever reason. Certainly not for any such flimsy reason as “a paper-thin piece of plastic was not bolted down tightly.”

  • Give.
  • Me.
  • A.
  • BREAK!

Not a single one of those other 19 fridges ever banged, rattled, or carried on. None of them sounded like a freight train a-rollin’ up the tracks.

If this kind of performance is “normal” or something like it, then…well… We are lookin’ at some serious degradation in the quality of our lifestyle. In fact, GE appliances overall are highly rated, despite a generous share of consumer complaints.   It appears that the 21st Century leaves something to be desired.

Like, maybe…competence?

Ahhh, The Good Ole Days….

My daddy’s dream car…

I have a friend who likes to send out emails of the forwarded-forwarded-forwarded variety. Most of them are sappy…but this one takes the cake. “No idea who put this together,” sez he, “but it is Fantastic!” It really set me off, I’m afraid:

1950’s version of an E-Mail

Long ago and far away, in a land that time forgot,
Before the days of Dylan , or the dawn of Camelot.

There lived a race of innocents, and they were you and me,

For Ike was in the White House in that land where we were born,
Where navels were for oranges, and Peyton Place was porn.

We longed for love and romance, and waited for our Prince,
Eddie Fisher married Liz, and no one’s seen him since.

We danced to ‘Little Darlin,’ and sang to ‘Stagger Lee’
And cried for Buddy Holly in the Land That Made Me, Me.

Only girls wore earrings then, and 3 was one too many,
And only boys wore flat-top cuts, except for Jean McKinney.

And Oprah couldn’t talk yet, in the Land That Made Me, Me.

We had our share of heroes, we never thought they’d go,
At least not Bobby Darin, or Marilyn Monroe.
For youth was still eternal, and life was yet to be,
And Elvis was forever in the Land That Made Me, Me.

We’d never seen the rock band that was Grateful to be Dead,
And Airplanes weren’t named Jefferson , and Zeppelins were not Led.

And Beatles lived in gardens then, and Monkees lived in trees,
Madonna was Mary in the Land That Made Me, Me.

We’d never heard of microwaves, or telephones in cars,
And babies might be bottle-fed, but they were not grown in jars.

And pumping iron got wrinkles out, and ‘gay’ meant fancy-free,
And dorms were never co-Ed in the Land That Made Me, Me.

We hadn’t seen enough of jets to talk about the lag,
And microchips were what was left at the bottom of the bag.

And hardware was a box of nails, and bytes came from a flea,
And rocket ships were fiction in the Land That Made Me, Me.

T-Birds came with portholes, and side shows came with freaks,
And bathing suits came big enough to cover both your cheeks.

And Coke came just in bottles, and skirts below the knee,
And Castro came to power near the Land That Made Me, Me.

We had no Crest with Fluoride, we had no Hill Street Blues,
We had no patterned pantyhose or Lipton herbal tea
Or prime-time ads for those dysfunctions in the Land That Made Me, Me.

There were no golden arches, no Perrier to chill,
And fish were not called Wanda, and cats were not called Bill

And middle-aged was 35 and old was forty-three,

And ancient were our parents in the Land That Made Me, Me.

But all things have a season, or so we’ve heard them say,
And now instead of Maybelline we swear by Retin-A.
They send us invitations to join AARP,
We’ve come a long way, baby, from the Land That Made Me, Me.

So now we face a brave new world in slightly larger jeans,
And wonder why they’re using smaller print in magazines.
And we tell our children’s children of the way it used to be,
Long ago and far away in the Land That Made Me, Me.

If you didn’t grow up in the fifties,
You missed the greatest time in history,
Hope you enjoyed this read as much as I did.
If So, PLEASE FORWARD this note to
someone who will appreciate these memories…

Hm. Actually the 1950s were pretty dreadful, as I recall.

  • Constant threat of nuclear warfare; weekly air-raid drills, school evacuation plans based on the likelihood that we would never see our parents again — whee! what fun!
  • Hatred of anyone whose skin was a different color from yours or who spoke a different language from yours.
  • Mediocrity: celebrated as the norm.
  • No real job opportunities for women. College women couldn’t major in the sciences or business management; if they contrived to weasel into a program, they couldn’t get a job with their degree. All girls were forced to take a year of home ec in K-12, and nevvermind if you needed geometry, algebra 2,, or trig to get into a decent university.  Why would anyone want to spend money sending a girl to university anyway, since all she was going to do is spawn and raise children?
  • Ohhh what fun it was. Mediocrity celebrated. Air raid shelters well stocked. A big, bloated car that was unsafe at any speed. Smog so thick you couldn’t see across your high-school campus. My father kept a crate of canned water in the back of the car, just in case we managed to escape down the Peninsula and get outside the blast zone before the bombs fell.

If anything had happened to him, my mother and I would have gone hungry until she could land another man — as a female, she couldn’t get a job that would support us and put food on our table.

Uh huh. Them’s were the good ole days…


Well, now we know I’m not the ONLY one in these parts who’s confused. Just opened a bill from American Express, demanding $2769 and change. ASAP, a substantial part of it being past due.


I know I paid last month’s bill, which amounted to some $1877.

Everything being haywire after the theft of all my credit and ID cards, I paid AMEX with a check. On February 2. It must not have cleared by the time they sent this bill. Evidently not: in an obscure corner they grouse about not receiving last month’s contributionm to their vast wealth.

A-a-a-n-d here on the credit union’s website I find an “external withdrawal” dated February 28, in the amount of $1877. Can’t see a check that cleared for that amount, so I assume these are somehow magically the same transaction. I hope.

My, but life in the 21st century is tiresome! One could even say, at some moments, that it’s…heh! for the birds.

Yea verily: this afternoon I needed to get a bag of birdseed. With Instacart defunct — it won’t accept my new credit card! — Costco is no longer an option for that purchase: I can’t haul a 50-pound bag from the car to the backyard seed bin by myself.

Passed an interesting-looking crime scene in the stick-and-styrofoam tracts along the way: a cluster of cops and cop cars descending on an alley behind a couple of homes. And HOLY mackerel, I just missed this. I was there right about at that time of day. Ahh, lovely Phoenix!

To the northwest of the ’Hood lies a moribund shopping center. In fact, the mall itself — once the largest enclosed shopping mall in the land — has been shut down for months. But the shops located outside the gigantic main mall building, scattered around acres of asphalt, are still open. One of these is a large Petco.

Surprised to see it was still in business, I veered off the main drag, darted into the parking lot, and scored a spot right in front. Not a good portent, as it developed.

Inside the store, there were two (count’em, 2) customers: me and some guy. Found the birdseed and tossed a couple of bags into the cart. Rolled through the empty checkout line, trudged across the parking lot, plopped them into the Dog Chariot, and proceeded home.

When I hauled them back to the seed bin and cut a bag open, I saw there was a reason that store has effectively zero clientele.  The damn birdseed is covered with dust. Dump it in the bin, and a cloud of dust flies up into your face!

Apparently it doesn’t taste very good either, not to the avian palate. The birds are barely touching it.

So today or tomorrow I suppose I’ll have to traipse over to the neighborhood Walmart and buy two or three bags of seed there. Then come back here, dump the remainder of this stuff in the alley, refill the bin and feeders.

Is there some reason why EVERYTHING has to be frikkin’ impossibly difficult or annoying? I mean…birdseed? You can’t buy a decent bag of BIRDSEED???????  In a PET STORE???

Who knew there were levels of quality in birdseed, anyway?

Yesterday afternoon I did at least make it to the Costco — which is why I was over on that side of town. And was reminded of WHY I liked Instacart so much.


I’ve come to hate shopping in Costco. People lose all contact with their minds when they go into that place. They roam around gazing entranced at the warehouse-ceiling-high piles and piles and PILES of goodies and don’t even notice that there are other people around them. Dazed, they amble up the middle of the wide aisle, so you can’t get around them on either side. Their kids scream and they don’t even hear the little darlings’ plaintive wails. And whoever and wherever they are, they’ve gotta get there first!

While I was trying to find some boned chicken thighs to make dog food for Ruby (the stuff I get at AJ’s is now deservedly kaput: not buyin’ that again!), someone rolled off with my cart.

Yeah: GONE. All the stuff I’d accrued while walking around the 3.35-acre store was disappeared.

I was so disgusted, I just walked out. Screw it…who needs ambience like that when there’s a Sprouts up the road and a Walmart around the corner?

Yes: chicken… Costco’s butchers insist there’s a chicken shortage and they can’t get boned chicken thighs.

Huh! Who’d’ve thunk it? There were armloads of chicken thighs at the Sprouts. This is the second time they’ve made the same excuse…heard it the last time I was there a couple weeks ago.

So I dunno what’s going on in that department, but whenever I get off my duff and run by the Walmart to pick up some quality (!!!????!!!) birdseed, I’ll check the butcher counter and see if they’re devoid of chicken thighs, too. Apparently there has been a kind of desultory shortage…

Meanwhile, speaking of folks living with shortages and overall disasters, what a MESS in Ukraine, eh?  I have a friend who’s Ukrainian. Guy was a competitive weight-lifter for years…last I heard, he was still lifting weights even in his dotage. He’s an interesting fellow…kinda strange, with a view of life that’s rather different from the standard American’s.

I do hope we’re not looking at another Vietnam or Afghanistan there…or worse: another world war. Engaging battle with Russia (if that’s what we end up doing) is a whole ’nother matter than taking on a brush-fire squabble in a Third-World country. With any luck, the whole fiasco will backfire on Putin. Still…how lucky we were to block him from installing his chum in the White House for a second term! The situation would be entirely different if that had happened…and, IMHO, far more horrifying than it is.

Reading between the lines, it looks ominously like Putin himself has lost a few of his marbles. He doesn’t appear to be thinking or acting rationally. Evidently he’s as crazy as Hitler. Or more so. lf my guess is right and Putin actually is irrational…well…better have that survival gear up to date.

Life in these New-nited States…

Do you recall thinking that it would be just ay-mazing if you lived to see the 21st century come in? Maybe even highly unlikely?

Well, f’rgodsake, here we are, two decades into the 21st century, and weirdly enough, we’re still here. “Weird” seems to be the word, all right. Sometimes I feel like I’m unstuck in time. Or magically dumped by kidnapping aliens out of a flying saucer  onto some world that is just slightly out of kilter. The miracles of computer science, in particular, seem to me to distort life so that many things are altogether out of whack.

Paying for things, for example.

I wanted to renew my son’s subscription to The Economist, as a Christmas present. Ended up jumping through hoop after hoop after absurd hoop, reciting digit after digit after digit of strange code numbers, fighting my way through ENDLESS yakathon punch-a-button hoops to get to a live person.

One of the interesting phenomena of the 21st century is that spectacularly wealthy corporations spend spectacular amounts of money to fob their customers onto spectacularly complicated and annoying systems to shuck off salaries for a few minimum-wage customer-service phone slaves. Is this amount of aggravation for your customers REALLY worth saving a half-dozen minimum-wage workers’ pay?

Dealing with doctors and doctors’ offices: HOLY shee-ut. First off, just try to get through the phone labyrinth to reach a live human. Then try to figure out WTF they’re talking about, as they try to wind their way through insurance and Medicare labyrinths. And now there are so damn many stupid rules that you have to sit through the same repetitive yakfest every time you call and then explain for the 103rd time that yes you have this piece of bureaucratic luggage and no you don’t have that piece of bureaucratic bullshit and why do we have to do this every damn time?

Could it be possible that Computerized Civilization is actually worse to deal with, psychologically, than the terrifying Threat of Nuclear Holocaust? Do you remember schoolboys shooting up their classrooms, back in those terrible dark ages? Is it possible that the dehumanization inflicted on us, here in the Digital Age, is driving our young people mad?

Well, I need to get off my duff, write Luz a check, and then traipse off to someplace to buy my son a Christmas present. Speaking of computerized phone hoopjumps, I finally just gave up trying to renew the subscription to The Economist for him. Apparently they don’t want us as customers.  I should’ve thought about going through Amazon, except…I’m not sure how you would renew an existing subscription through that route.

And so, awayyyyy…. after a fashion.

What? A Poem of What…

Shot off in the purple haze emanating from the bottom of a bottle of wine…


“You fell,” he said.
“I’m not leaving my home,” she said.
Her home, where she had brought up the man in front of her from the age of about nine.

“You can’t stay here alone,” he said.
“I’ll be fine,” she said.



“We must put you somewhere else.
A home where someone is there
All the time
To look after you.”



Can you not imagine, my son,
How you might love your home
More than life?


Can you not imagine, my son,
That some things matter more than life?

“I am afraid for you.”

No. No, my son: you are afraid for yourself.
For your guilt. For your conscience.
Most of all,
For your impotence.
For the impotence that is human.

“We will sell the house.”


“We can use the money to pay
For your care.”

No. No, my son. You will use the money
To pay for your guilt.
To pay for your impotence.

“Put her in this bed,” he said.
“And let her sleep.”

Let us sleep.

All of us.


This afternoon I stopped at a house for sale in the neighborhood just to the east of mine. The houses are about 20 years older than the ones in my tract (which came into being in the early 1970s) and also about half again as pricey. Needed work, the place did. As I’m about to clilmb into my car, along comes a middle-aged man, who pulls into the driveway and climbs out of his SUV.

“Tryin’ to sell the place, are ya?” I ask.

“We have an offer,” he says. “Looks like it’s gonna go through.”

We chat.

His mother has lived there for lo! these many years. They moved in when he was nine years old, and that’s where he grew up. From his point of view, it’s the family homestead.

They have her in a “care home.”

I sense what this means: one of those fly-by-night outfits run under the radar by Tony the Romanian Landlord and his ilk, the one who has peppered the ’Hood with a half-dozen “nursing homes.”

He thinks it’s grand. It’s not, after all, the Beatitudes or the Terraces. That would be why I sit here getting shit-faced on the dregs of a bottle of Bogle.

Holy fuck, what a people we have become!

But meanwhile, beside it all and beneath at all: what do we do with our parents when they can no longer care for themselves?

What do we do with people that we, deep in our hearts and unmentionable souls, do not want to care for ourselves? Or cannot care for, wives and sisters and daughters having to go into the marketplace to help keep the roofs over our heads and the food on our restaurant tables and the SUVs in our driveways?


Prepping For a Trump Loss

Opinion polls suggest our President is likely to lose in tomorrow’s elections. Personally, I’ll believe that when I see it, first because I’m not convinced public opinion polls are spectacularly accurate and second because, between you ‘n’ me ‘n’ the lamp-post, I believe Mr. Trump is fully capable of pulling off a coup.

He has  surrounded the White House with an unclimbable wall, and we have seen that he has built and employs his own private militia. And he has effectively issued a call to arms to the nuttier members of his large and nutty following.

One thing we’ve learned, if we’ve learned anything over the past four years: the stability of our republic is nothing like we imagined. Our present predicament — an irresponsible wannabe dictator in the White House whipping up mobs of uneducated, hate-stupefied followers in the mode of Adolf Hitler or Jair Bolsanaro, ripping children out of their mothers’ arms, making fun of disabled people, spreading hate and fear, waving an upside-down Bible in front of a church whose congregation would like nothing to do with him, minimizing a highly contagious, lethal disease: also unimaginable. Merchants and business owners so certainly expect trouble that they’re boarding up shops and business offices.

Given that he’s egging on his followers to block highways and harass those who disagree with them, and that he’s doing what he can to suppress the vote by fear, by intimidation, or by bully posturing, and that a whole lot of crazies have been taken in by him, I think it’s wise to be prepared for unrest — especially if Biden comes out on top.

Before the election results start to come in, stock in food, household supplies, and medications, top off the car’s gas tank, and if you’re armed, keep a supply of ammunition on hand. Since .22-, .38-, and .45-caliber shells are in mighty short supply, a can of bear spray could in theory be used for self-defense.  You should be able to get this at an outdoor store, assuming the stuff is legal in your state.

Crazed “demonstrators” are likely to knock out power. So do have a camp lantern and plenty of batteries in the house, plus a propane grill and plenty of propane. And water. Several days’ supply of water.

This threat will persist over several weeks, until all the ballots are counted and the elections are decided. So it would be wise to have at least a month’s worth of provisions stocked in. More, if possible.