Coffee heat rising

Green Hemorrhage

Wow! The long greens have been washing out of the Funny Farm like a flash flood! I’m freakin’ going broke here…but oddly, most of this results not from impulse buying or budget-free living but from a weird confluence of bureaucratic gouges and house-related expenses. Some of them pretty hefty expenses. Most of these were either for things that had to be done or for things I figured were better attended to now than put off.

First, of course, we had the blinding $2500 property tax bill. Put that on a charge card. The statement just came floating into the mailbox…so that has to be paid forthwith. With any luck it will elicit a little kickback from American Express…more, I hope, than the gouge the County charges for the privilege of putting it on a card.

Then, the pool fiascos…holy mackerel!!!

After the $10,000 replastering job, as you’ll recall, the pool was absolutely gorgeous for a week or two…then it filled up with green London Fog. For $100+ per visit, Swimming Pool Service & Repair’s redoubtable Aaron came over and tried to beat the stuff back. Repeated visits and a $125 filter cleaning did nothing. Finally, after I remarked that I was thinking about simply filling the pool in, enough being enough, already, they came over and tried again a couple of times. Much to no avail… The green fog just came right back. (3 x $100: $300, + 125: $425)

You’ll recall that at the outset of this adventure, on the advice of WonderAccountant’s pool guy, I was pouring two gallons of chlorine into the drink: $13 a day…that would be $390 a month. This doesn’t count the soda ash and assorted other chemicals or the new test kit I had to order from Amazon.

Finally Aaron proposed that they should drain the pool, power-spray it with chlorine, and sanitize the pump, the filter, and any other equipment. Hoping against hope to save the pool I agreed to this: $350.

And indeed: they did a wonderful job! The water was sparkling clear and it stayed clear with little or no work on my part.

The job racked up not only the $350 for the work, but something over $100 charged by the city for refilling the pool after they drained it.

Then about two weeks later, along came the palm tree guys. They proposed to trim and clean up the four neglected palms — those trees hadn’t been trimmed in three or four years — and also “skin” the palm that never had the dead palm frond stumps removed: $250. This was a job that really needed doing, and the price was about what Gerardo would charge…only they’d do it now, not sometime whenever Gerardo & his guys get around to it.

I told them they absolutely must not drop the palm fronds into the damn pool! Right. “Sí señora…no palm fronds in the pool.”

Couple hours later I look out there and the damn pool is FULL OF PALM FRONDS!

I go out and say, “I asked you not to drop the palm fronds in the pool!”

“No problem, señora! We’ll pull them out!”

He didn’t understand what I was saying when I said “no palm fronds in the pool.” He thought I meant “please don’t leave dead fronds and leaves in the water,” not what I really meant, which was “throw the palm fronds over the wall into the alley and onto the street, and then from there load them into your truck.” And of course he had no clue that palm fronds harbor, among many other pests, billions and billions of mustard algae spores.

Of course, they pulled the fronds out of the water, which was exactly what they planned to do. Then, after I taught them how to do it, they cleaned the remaining debris off the bottom of the pool.

They charged $250 to trim all four palm trees (cleaning out at least 3 years’ worth of neglected debris, still clinging to the tops of the 30-foot trunks) and to skin the one inadequately maintained tree. It was miserably hot, they damn near killed themselves working like acrobatic climbing mules, and then they spent another hour shoveling out the pool. Amazingly, they engaged this last annoying chore with good cheer. I gave them a $100 bonus, given the vastness of the job I’d foisted on them.

Understand: Gerardo charges $50/tree: $200 per job, and the unshaven tree would be left unshaven. Over three years, that’s $600…so I came out ahead on that one, and got the neglected frond stubs cut off that one tree at no extra charge. (You don’t even want to know how much Gerardo proposed to charge to shave that tree!)

I poured some more chlorine into the drink. Once again, to no avail.

Within three days, the pool was a murky green swamp again!

A-a-a-n-d once again, I call Aaron in despair, pretty much determined to drain the pool and fill it in. Yea verily, I get the name of a pool demolition company, whose guy gives me an estimate of $12,000 to $14,000. Installing a deck over it with a pump in the bottom to keep mosquito puddle dry would come to about the same.

Aaron sends his colleague Don over. He dumps in some chemicals that, after about 12 hours of run time, sort of clear the water. That bill has yet to be presented. He also suggests that instead of fighting the thing myself, I should hire a pool maintenance guy to come in once a week to do battle with it.

I remark that during the Year of the Surgeries indeed I did do that, to woeful result. It was a total waste of $80 a month and and a total waste of time. He says maybe I should try someone else. So far I haven’t seen the bill for that visit.

Determined to give it one last chance, I ask the neighbors on the ‘Hood’s Facebook page if anyone can suggest a pool guy. And lo! Some woman warmly recommends the Pool Dude of the Century. Another pool dude is also recommended.

I reach the second guy first — he wants $120 a month. Right, pal. We’ll be calling the demolition guy back next.

Finally the first guy returns my call. He comes over, inspects the mess, and says he’ll do it for $85 a month. Weekly visits, chemicals included. Welll….ohhhkayyy…I figure I can always can him when (not “if”) this doesn’t work: “You’re on!”

So he, that very morning, applies three chemicals that he happens to carry on his truck. “You’re gonna have to run the system overnight,” he says. “It’ll take about 24 hours for this stuff to do the job.”

That evening I go out and look at the water: still murky. Another lost cause, I figure, and plan to call the demolition crew the following morning.

But lo! Comes the dawn, I stumble out to the poolside and by golly, the water is as clean and sparkling as it was after Swimming Pool Service and Repair worked their chlorine-washing magic!

He came back the next day, brushed everything down, and it looked incredible. Then he came back a couple days ago for the first of his regular Wednesday jobs. So far, he has yet to present me with a bill, but he did say clarifying it would be about $20. Sooo…$20 + $85: $105.

Okay, so the $2500 for the tax bill did not come out of the day-to-day living funds, that’s so: It was in the Tax Savings account. But the rest of it most certainly did  come out of the grocery budget: $1,715.

Just the beginning.

Then there was the $125 for the closed-toed black shoes we’re required to wear to choir on Sunday. Of course I have perfectly fine pain-free shoes bought specifically for that purpose…but the new director demands closed-toe shoes. You understand: I buy and wear these expensive shoes specifically because my feet hurt as a direct result of wearing shoes designed to please men! Some years ago, after deciding not to have risky surgery on my feet but instead to wear Birkenstocks until my feet eventually stopped hurting at every step (took about three years). At that time I made a considered and very deliberate decision:

I will NEVER AGAIN wear shoes that hurt just to please a man’s taste.

So strongly do I feel about this that I have seriously considered quitting the choir.

But eventually I thought better of that, drove out to Tempe, and plopped down $143 for a pair of black clogs. Wore these to church and found, yea verily, they’re uncomfortable and hot! Very, very hot. I’ve never had my feet actively made hot by a pair of shoes.

A few days ago, I was back out in Tempe to meet The Kid at a restaurant next door to the store. While waiting, I perused the store’s goods again, and mentioned to the clerk that I hated the shoes I’d bought. She said well, I could bring them back if it’s been less than two months.

Truth to tell, I’d have to figure out if it’s been that long or not. This whole week has been one long, hectic whirl, and I certainly haven’t had time to make a 90-minute drive back and forth to lovely downtown Tempe. But…if they’ll still take the shoes back, maybe I can trade them in on something less…clunky.

Yes. Believe it or not, they had a pair of black closed-toe CFMs! 😀

Such a temptation… {cackle!}

God lord, no wonder I’m broke…there’s more. Endlessly more:

  • Chuck’s Auto Service: $96, car maintenance
  • State of Arizona: $17, auto emissions rip-off
  • State of Arizona: $280, car registration rip-off
  • Maricopa County: $53 rip-off for paying $2500 in property taxes by credit card
  • Mayo Clinic: $80 not covered by Medicare or Medigap
  • Plumber: $143, replace worn-out part, fix annoying toilet
  • Gerardo: $150, yard work plus dig up ungodly vicious plants
  • All Saints: $25, choir folder

And the beat goes on…