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Memorial Day, Memories, and Amazing Work

Yesterday being Memorial Day, the berserk hordes who now inhabit Our Great City headed out of town, leaving the city streets prett’ much empty. And good riddance to them: it gets less and less pleasant to live in a city that keeps growing like some unholy fungus from outer space…without regard to whether there’s enough water to support millions of people from now into perpetuity…or even until the day after tomorrow. Meanwhile, though, some of us do not quit working just because it’s a holiday: Luis the Arborist showed up at 6 a.m. sharp (uhm… more or less) to cut back the overgrown paloverde, palo brea, and olive.

I hate to do that to these beautiful trees. But the paloverde had sent two limbs up over the roof. One of these sprang from a trunk (it has four trunks) that had started to sag ominously under the weight…suggesting that the first good, hard monsoon that blows in this summer would drop a half-ton of tree limb onto my roof or the neighbor’s. The palo brea poses no threat to any structures, but it does crave to claw out the eyes of passers-by. Given the opportunity, it drapes its monstrously thorny boughs over the sidewalk, where they wave in the breeze right at head-height for a human. So that thing has to be trimmed back every year.

And yes, I do hate cutting them back, especially the paloverde. This morning there are NO birds in the side yard. As I’ve said recently, normally the place is alive with them. So presumably they were either nesting or taking shelter in the overgrown paloverde.

Before Luis came over, I inspected it to see if I could spot nests, but couldn’t see any. So thought it safe enough to let him have at it. But this morning’s absence of the flocks of sparrows, towhees, dove, and house finches suggests that was wrong.

However…the risk of a 500-pound tree limb falling on the roof kinda outweighed the risk of, alas, scaring off the birds.

Meanwhile, a Memorial Day shopping expedition was planned with friends VickyC and KJG. I had to arrive at VickyC’s house at 10 a.m., meaning the key errands I needed to do — grab some dog food and fill up the gas tank — had to be done early. Wrangling the tree guy around the dogs threw a monkey wrench in the plans to do those tasks.

Flew up to Walmart, which is close to the house and usually has the fancy dog food — overpriced though the stuff is for their customer base. But no…they had no chicken, only beef. Ruby the Corgi Pup is allergic to beef. So had to traipse all the way down to AJ’s. The Costco was on the way from the Walmart to the AJ’s, and by then it was past opening time.

Arrive at the Costco gas station to find it empty. Closed. Padlocks on the gas pumps. F!!!ck.

Moving on to AJ’s, they were mercifully open (not so merciful for their employees, but I have no idea what I would’ve done about the dogs had the store been closed…not many places carry this particular brand of overpriced dog food, and it takes two or three hours to cook a new batch of their regular chow).

This junket, as it developed, was a Drive Down Memory Lane.

Holy mackerel…do you have any idea how long it’s been since driving around our fair city was a pleasant endeavor?

The streets were essentially empty. Every yahoo and homicidal driver had freaking left town, Memorial Day traditionally being the first really hot day of the summer. Everyone who’s anyone and a great number who are no one heads out of the city, northward bound on often motionless freeways.

And I was reminded that — can you believe this? — once I liked to drive around Phoenix. Once upon a time it was actually fun to get in your car and just cruise the streets, day or night. As bored 20-year-olds, we had a game in which we would get in the car, the driver poised to take orders from the person in the shotgun seat. Said sidekick would flip a coin: heads we go left; tails right. And we would just drive around, exploring the city at random, usually ending up on the side of Camelback Mountain. If driver and sidekick were members of the opposite sex, this accidental destination presented some even more entertaining possibilities. 😉

So it was strangely pleasant. Despite the frustrations encountered at the Walmart and the Costco, I arrived home in an almost unheard-of good mood, instead of mad as a cat and grinding my teeth. Surprising! On any normal day, driving here leaves you wanting to bite someone.

Leads me to think I should think about living in a smaller city. Like, say, Prescott. Or the beloved Yarnell. Ah, Yarnell. Ah, 40 acres a few miles out of town. Yes. Please.

KJG and her husband, Mr. Fireman, just sold their house up against the White Tanks. They’ve bought a place in Payson, where they’re now in the process of moving. It’s on four acres of forested land and is really going to be a lovely place to live.

Our plan was to have lunch at a favorite place in lovely downtown Tempe, then make a run on our favorite European shoe store, which was having a 10% off sale. But just before we left, we discovered the restaurant was closed. So were all the restaurants in the vicinity of VickyC’s house.

So we came on up to the Funny Farm, where I happened to have a nice package of organic free-range chicken thighs snabbed from the local Sprouts. We cooked those up with some veggies and a side of fresh tomatoes, and enjoyed sitting around yakking for quite some time.

KJG remarked that she’s headed up to Payson this week to establish residence and clean cupboards, cabinets, closets, and everything else preparatory to the arrival of their worldly goods. Mr. F is staying here for the nonce, so that he can continue to pack stuff into their pick-up and trailer and to keep the crazy neighbors’ horde of cats out of the yard…the new buyers being innocent of the fact that KJG and Mr. F are moving because of the filthy cats’ defiling the house’s yard, walls, patios, and gardens.

Isn’t that something? Being driven out of your dream home, custom built for you in one of the prettiest parts of the Valley, by effing nut cases who board mobs of cats and refuse to keep them off your property! These people essentially hijacked the HOA, so the specific written covenants were not enforced and are never gonna be enforced.

At any rate, she remarked that she didn’t have enough silverware to leave some for Mr. F and take enough for her — they only have one set.

Mwa ha ha! Lo and behold, I just happen to have a whole set of fairly fancy flatware, purchased at Williams Sonoma about three years ago. Bought it because I was about to host a temporary roommate, and I knew the fact that my working stainless looked almost identical to my Christofle — which I use all the time — was gonna cause trouble. The silver, while it can be washed in the dishwasher, has to be loaded separate from the stainless. Well, the existing stainless set is such a close knock-off of the Christofle pattern that sometimes even I have trouble telling them apart.

As soon as the roommate moved on — joining her husband in San Francisco, whence he had decamped three months before her contract employment ran out — I resurrected the Christofle knock-offs. Old age: anything new makes you nervous. 😉

So she was pleased to take this practically new set, and I was delighted to give it to her. A great housewarming gift, eh? May she use it in good health, now and evermore.

By the time we finished stuffing ourselves and talking ourselves blue, KJG was getting tired. She and Mr. F have been schlepping up and down to Payson (a 2½ hour drive) carrying their worldly goods, all the while packing and trying to keep the Waddell castle pristinely clean (and cat-urine stink-free…). So she excused herself.

VickyC and I drove out to Tempe, where I spent a great deal more than I could afford on a new pair of dressy(ish) black sandals. My old ones, which I wear to excess, were completely shot: holes worn on the insole under the toes! So that was a pricey trip. Not as pricey as it would have been, though, had we found a non-fast-food restaurant open.

And so it goes…


2 thoughts on “Memorial Day, Memories, and Amazing Work”

  1. Sounds like you had a nice Memorial Day. Enjoy the new sandals.
    I had no plans for the holiday except running errands and doing a load of laundry. It WAS nice to drive around with so many people off work, either out of town, or at an annual riverside festival. I also prefer to do my shopping in non-crowded stores.

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