Okay, the mail-in ballot is filled out and ready to hand in. Now all I have to do is physically take it to the elections bureau — given his past performance, it’s pretty obvious our honored President will try again to block mail-in voting.

I’ve voted “absentee” (a misnomer: mail-in is what we’re talkin’ about here) for many years, in every election — ever since the time our honored Republican leaders moved our voting site out of the neighborhood and into an area that is so unsafe that I would not get out of my car there. Just a week or ten days before that election, two little girls playing in front of their apartment house were killed when they got in the line of fire between two warring drug gangs — about a block down the street from that voting place.

Lovely Phoenix.

Another year our conniving leaders moved the voting places in majority black and Latino districts to the outer borders of those districts, where they were difficult to find and for many residents required a long drive. Funny how low the turn-out was, eh?

We’re told that at any time between now and November 3rd, we can hand in our ballots down at the voting bureau. But…WHERE IS IT? No clue in the voting materials. To get to a page that looks like it MIGHT provide the address, you have to jump through one of those annoying “identify the fire hydrants in these impossibly fuzzy photos” hoop-jump. I had to go through that trick THREE TIMES to find a page that provided an address, but whether that’s a place where you can drop off a ballot is ambiguous. You can drop them off at any voting place on November 3, but that entails a) finding the place and b) standing in line till the cows come home.

No joke. We have had Presidential elections here where the wait time was four to five hours! Again, this is an attempt to block Democratic voters, since a large proportion of Arizona Dems are working-class, and most minimum-wage and service jobs and jobs in the trades will dock workers’ pay for the hours they’re absent. You shouldn’t have to pay half a day’s wages for the privilege of voting. And you may be sure the local Republicans know most minimum-wage citizens can’t afford to pay any such thing.

Normally I would just drop the ballot in the mail. But the risk that the wannabe dictator in the White House and the toady he put in charge of the Post Office will interfere with delivery of these things is simply too high to chance it. Dollars to donuts, any ballot you drop into a PO mail box will end up in the trash.

The elections bureau is in downtown Phoenix, in an area of difficult to navigate one-way streets and extravagantly expensive parking. Even though their website gives an address, nowhere is it made clear whether this is the place to deliver a mail-in ballot in person. They provide a phone number, so I’ll have to call that in the morning and then sit around for 20 minutes or so listening to some endless recorded blab-a-thon.

To gild that lily, I’m getting a sore throat.

Presumably coming down with the Dread Disease — which, I’m told, because of a budding underlying condition, will very likely carry me off.

Before I go, though, I want to help carry Mr. Trump off his would-be throne.

Have No Fear…

Funny will be back. 😀

The blog has been on a bit of a hiatus while I’ve juggled several large projects. Right now am on page 26 of 57 pages in the client’s  Chapter 2…and she’s just getting on a roll.

Seriously, it’s a sophisticated and heavily researched academic book whose author is not a native speaker of English. And I do not speak her language (gotta learn it!!!), so sometimes it takes some figuring to Englishify it.

Sooo much crazy stuff going on in our world…to say “have no fear” seems a little…ridiculous. Some of us are scared sh!tless. Pool Dude is presently armed to the teeth — he seriously expects riots in the neighborhood lanes if Trump is voted out. You can’t buy ammo for love nor money, not that it would matter because I personally have no time to pass down at the range training myself to hit a target dead-on. Nor, offhand, do I happen to have any targets laying around the house just now.

Further from the realm of neurotic fantasy and closer to the realm of reality: if you haven’t already done so, it might be wise to be sure you have enough paper towels and toilet paper to last a month or so. Was just over at the big Fry’s (the local incarnation of Kroger’s) and found the shelves about bare where those things were concerned.

Rubbing alcohol is also absent. Remember that Windex contains alcohol and will also disinfect surfaces, as will hydrogen peroxide (good luck laying your hands on any of that!). Failing either of those, you can buy straight grain alcohol under the brand name “Everclear” at Total Wine — depending on what state you live in. It’s illegal in some states. The stuff is actually a more effective disinfectant than rubbing alcohol. Do NOT drink it, no matter what anyone suggests — unless you wish to be numbered among the microbes it removes from this earth.

Back to work! Stay well…

Life at the Funny Farm: September Edition

Jeez! 9 ayem and I’m flat-out exhausted! What a Morning from Hell! Up at the usual 5 a.m. but dawdled over the computer, so the Hound and I went out the door late.

Because it’s so late, we hit the road at the height of the Dogging Hour. Every chucklehead and his little brother and sister are out with their pit bulls, Aussies, spaniels, poodles, German shepherds, dalmations, chihuahuas, Bernese mountain dogs, Boston terriers, dachshunds, akitas, vizlas, and reservation dawgs. This adds a great deal of stress to a doggywalk because Ruby wants to LUNGE at every goddamn one of them. That, as you can imagine, tends to alarm the fellow dogs, which then go in for the attack by way of protecting their humans. To prevent this, every time someone comes along with a pooch, I have to stop and make Ruby “SIT! STAY!” until they go by us.

This is WHY we leave the house no later than 5:00…by way of avoiding the dog-walkers’ rush.

So we walk around the corner to see if our neighbor Signey is out with the kids. She lives right next door to the house where La Maya & La Bethulia lived before La B decided to pathbreak their escape to California, and at this time of year she’s often sitting in front with her small children and her herd of tiny, funny-looking adopted dogs.

And yes, she’s there. We start to schmooze…

New neighbor comes out with his dogs and walks off around the corner. She points out one of them and says it’s a pit-bull/shepherd mix and is extremely aggressive. She says it went after one of her pipsqueaks and almost killed it before she was able to tear the animal away from it.

Lovely. The scrawny male human looks like he weighs…oh…maybe 150 pounds, at the outside. Mmmm hmmmm…

She dotes on Ruby and rubs her hands and face ALLLLLLL over the dog’s fluffy corgi fur. Then she says happily, “And the kids are going to school.”

Oh. Good. It’s not maybe…it’s absolutely positively: You just rubbed fistfuls of virus into my dog’s coat! Jezus Aitch Keerist, but people are stupid.

By the time we get to Feeder Street N/W, there’s too much traffic to get across the road safely, so we wander back into the ’Hood, up the street I used to live on, around and around. This route is neither as long nor as pleasant as the stroll through the shady realms of Upper Richistan, but at least we don’t have to risk life or limb to get there.

Herd the dog back to the house, and now I have to wash her. She sleeps on my bed at night, and I do NOT want Signey’s kids’ classmates’ germs all over my bedding. Or all over the floors and furniture in my house, either.

Washing Ruby is quite a production. She hates it, she is terrorized by it, and she puts up one bitch of a fight. Decide against assaying this battle in the backyard — at that hour, it’s cool enough outside that cold water out of the hose could in fact harm her. So I have to drag her into the bathroom to wash her in the tub.

WHAT a fight!!!  I finally haul her into the bathtub, then get her wet all over, then scrubbed down with shampoo, then rinsed, then out of the tub…. Did I mention that she hates being wiped down with towels, too?

She goes shake shake shake shake shake shake shake… and covers the cabinetry, walls, and floors with billowing sprays of dog-water.

More fighting. Her hair is thick and she’s getting fat and I don’t get far with the towels. Dig out a hair dryer, plug it into a socket near the floor, and drag her over.

You thought the bathtub episode was a fight? Hah!

Finally manage to get enough of the sog out of her fur that I figure she probably won’t get chilled enough to get sick. I hope. By this time, though, the sun has risen and the air is warming, so…this is prob’ly a safe enough bet.

Clean up the mess and…clean up the mess and clean up the mess and clean up the mess and clean up the mess and….

Put the towels and the towel that fell off the towel bar into the bath water and the dog-wiping towel and the microfiber rags used to finish the dog-drying into the washer. Get out of my wet clothes and toss those in the washer. Find something else to wear. Climb into the shower and wash my own much-doggified body and hair before getting dressed.

By now it’s 8 o’clock!

Fix breakfast. Pour coffee. Just begin to drag the melon and the other goodies out to the table on the garden deck when ARF ARF ROAR YAP YAP ARF ARF WOOF WOOF ARF ARF YIPPETY YAP YAP YAP!!!!!!! 

Pool Dude.

Pool Dude is a chatty kinda guy. He does like to talk. Rudely, I sorta ignore him without saying in some many words arrghhh leave me alone because i bite! He goes on about his business. Putters around. Surfaces to explain his scheme to provide a refurbished pool cleaner gadget of the Amazing Variety, a plan that was derailed during the week. No problem. We discuss last night’s political side show, he being right-stage, me being left-stage, both of us being gun owners. I can’t get .38s. He has a bunch of ammo stashed. We figure we’ll be needing this, though I suggest it’s mighty doubtful that Trump’s bully boys will be rioting through sub-suburban neighborhoods. He says he’s taking no chances.

I say my plan is to get a blowgun. He says…

…hang onto your hat…

He used to make them! 

I mean, really. You’ve heard of “never a dull moment”? Around this place there’s never a sane moment.

I say I understand you can make them with PVC pipe. He says noooo, the diameter would be too large. You need copper piping.

Hmmmmmm……  Suppose Home Depot will cut that stuff to measure for me? Waddaya bet?

Which do we live in? Monty Python ShowTwilight Zone? Or just another planet altogether?

Pool dude out. 

It’s almost 10 a.m. I’ve got to go to Costco. On the way home, maybe I’ll stop at the Depot and see what I can get by way of lengths of copper tubing. Hmmmm….

Où sont les amours de lointain?

“Where are the loves of yesteryear”… Ever amuse yourself on the Internet for an hour or two looking up old lovers — les amours de lointain? What a bizarre experience.

Every time. Some would say that’s because my amours of yesteryear were themselves bizarre. Which would, one might admit, be to a degree true.

Today I took it into my bored little head to look up a man I dated throughout my junior and senior years at the august University of Arizona. Let’s just call him “Bob.”

I met Bob at the campus swimming pool, where I spent a fair amount of the summer session between my sophomore and junior years hanging out. He was older than me, handsome, and ever on the make. I had pretensions of smartness, was moderately cute, and had a 20-inch waist and big boobs. An affaire de coeur quickly coalesced. We became a Thing, and we remained Thingly for most of my undergraduate career.

My parents hated Bob. They had, we might quietly remark, no clue how much better he was than Jim, the sh!thead who was my sophomore-year heart-throb. At least Bob didn’t end up in the slam…look at it that way. My mother adored Jim. Handsome, charming, rugged, sleazy Jim. She never heard about his rather spectacular experience with the Highway Patrol. Historic, some might say…

Think of that. She lived the rest of her life without ever knowing him well. 😀 Thank God!

But back to Bob. My parents intuited, on sight, that this guy was a low-key scoundrel. That, I thought — and to this day feel — was an over-reaction. He was a jerk. But as scoundrels go, he really would have had to work to rise to the level of some of the charmers that inhabited the landscape of my life.

At the time I met Bob, he was in his junior or senior year at the University of Arizona. I was a preternaturally advanced student in French, a language that I spoke fluently, and was headed for a richly funded three-year Ph.D. program. I doubt if he really understood what that meant, because in those days women were not expected to have careers — certainly not as university professors — except that it kept me hanging around lovely Tucson all year. Bob was not the kind of guy who came from a background where women did anything other than clean house, f*ck, and raise children. But then, that was about all my parents really expected of me. Far as they were concerned, I was at the UofA to find a man, not to get some exotic graduate degree that would prepare me to do…what? Teach high-school French?

To give you the same introduction to Bob’s character that I had: Bob paid his way through the University — covering out-of-state tuition, which was as stiff in those days as it is now — by stealing hub caps.

Yes. That was his job at the time: hub-cap thief. So successful was he that at one point along the line the Tucson newspaper ran a story about the shocking rash of hub-cap thefts in the city. Bob knew a fence who would buy as many hub-caps as he could steal…and he stole a lot of them, obviously.

He was pretty good at stealing. Once I was in the university bookstore with him. He picked up some book off a rack — as I recall, it looked like an expensive textbook — and slipped it under the letter-jacket that he always wore. Zipped up the jacket three-quarters of the way and coolly stood in line with me at the cashier’s counter as I paid for the stack of textbooks I was buying. Not a blink. He did the same at the library, except that we didn’t have to go past a cashier.

So it was that Bob was single-handedly responsible for all those annoying exit-door alarms in every bookstore and library across the country…

Bob being my first real boyfriend, I was hopelessly enamored of him. And one must say, he was one studly fella.

Yet as time passed, I began to see him in a less and less Valentine-pink light. Stealing from the bookstore? Stealing hubcaps? Okay, that was interesting, kind of picaresque.

But then came the time that I was offered an opportunity to spend my junior year in France. This was outside the usual university-sponsored junior-year-in-Wherever program. One of my friends, who was French, had come to the UofA the year before. Her parents, out of…je ne sais quoi — gratitude? ignorance? some sort of scam? offered to let me spend the year in their apartment in Neuilly-sur-Seine, a rather fancy neighborhood. We might say.

Not being the adventurous type and having seen the world several times around, thankyouverymuch, I failed to see the amazingness of this opportunity. But Bob sure did. And he wanted to go along.

So, he proposed a strategy: I would get a grant or scholarship to support me in France for a semester or (preferably) a year, I would stay in this place in Neuilly for free, and he would come along with me. We would live together in Paris for a year…on the money I would collect from the proposed scholarship.

Got it? This dude proposed to sponge off his girlfriend for a year in France.

I declined the opportunity.

But I did not decline to continue the love affair.

This amour continued through my junior year. Bob was a year ahead of me. He lived with two other guys in a shabby apartment off-campus — standard shabby student housing — and I lived in the dorm, as all unmarried female students were required to do at the time.

The first time I began to have really serious doubts about the guy — can you imagine not having such doubts after it became obvious that if I married him I would never see my parents again, or that he was a professional thief, or that he figured it was OK to sponge off an 18-year-old girl? — came when he delivered an admiring report about an escapade on the part of his best buddy. Said buddy had married a young woman and they were living happily ever after in lovely Tucson. After they were wed, she became pregnant — as young wives were expected to do, back in the mid-1960s. She grew quite large with this pregnancy, so that toward the end she was not able to accommodate his persistent desires for sex. So, buddy had bragged to Bob, he betook himself to a bar, picked up a chippy, and got it off with her. Bob thought that was brilliant!

He went on and on about what a brave, fine, and righteous thing it had been for this guy to relieve himself in the vagina of some chickadee he’d picked up at a bar, while his wife was left at home — presumably cleaning house or washing the dinner dishes and lugging her vast belly around.

That was the point where I first thought, seriously, “hmmm…maybe Daddy is right about this clown.”

Then we had the draft issue.

The Vietnam War was still in progress, and young men were being drafted and sent off to be sacrificed in the meat grinder of Southeast Asia. Bob had no moral qualms about the war — he did not oppose it on ethical grounds. He probably didn’t oppose it at all. But he absolutely positively had no intention of going to Vietnam.

By then, I had realized that I was not going to marry the guy — men could still avoid the draft if they were married. Luckily, the government changed that rule right about then, so getting me to marry him would not have kept him out of the army. But…being enrolled as a student would still protect you from the draft.

So, Bob came up with another plan: graduate school.

A student, Bob was not. I was attending lectures for about half his classes, taking notes, and writing his papers. He was barely managing to pass the mid-terms and finals. But because I could generate passing grades for his courses while I was asleep, he did finish a bachelor’s degree in business management — the standard rubber-stamp degree for young males at the time. The second-to-last thing on this earth Bob wanted to do was take more coursework. The last was to fight in Vietnam.

So, he decided, he would enroll in a master’s degree in the dumbedest-down, most Mickey-Mouse graduate program he could think of: elementary education. This would protect him for at least another two years. Assuming he could avoid the draft at that time, he would then take a job at some school with the goal of parlaying his B.S. in business into a principal’s job within a few years. Principals, he reasoned, earned a living wage, unlike teachers. He was accustomed to living on next to nothing, and so he would put up with the low pay until he could get into an administrative position: that would be far better than a tour of Vietnam.

Dumbed-down and Mickey-Mouse were les mots justes for a course of graduate studies in elementary ed at the UofA’s College of Education. Incredibly, the guy earned three units of graduate-level credit for a course in bulletin-board making!

No joke: graduate credit for sticking little cut-out felt figures on a corkboard!

That academic year ended. I took one summer session in Tucson but then had to go home to lovely Sun City for the remainder of the summer break. This gave my parents a chance to have at me. By the time we returned to class in the fall, the scales had fallen (or been ripped) from my eyes, and I told Bob to get lost. He was shattered. I was sad, but convinced my parents were right: l-o-o-o-s-e-r.

A lifetime has passed. Occasionally I wonder what happened to him. At one point while I was working at the Great Desert University in lovely Tempe, I looked him up and discovered, to my amazement, that he, too, was on that campus. He had some kind of nondescript administrative job.

Today I decide, out of (altogether-too-) idle curiosity, to look up old Bob and see what became of him. And lo! where should I find him (where else) but on LinkedIn.

Just now? He’s an associate vice-chancellor at the University of California campus where my cousin and her mother went to school. Before that: same position, only at Santa Cruz, where he spent four years in a job with the same title. He only lasted one year at Oregon State, doing something unmentioned for some foundation. Three years as associate vice president of a Florida university. And three years in that assistant vice-dean position at the Great Desert University.

Sure am glad I didn’t have to follow that character all over the country, these past few decades. Santa Cruz might have been nice. But Davis…not so much, probably. Certainly not in his company. 😀

As for the drug dealer? What happened to him?

That guy was a Republican Party operative during Barry Goldwater’s presidential campaign. He and his associates were responsible for a variety of “dirty tricks” (yes, they called it that even then) employed to get Goldwater nominated over the rival candidate. His mentor was a member of the Arizona House of Representatives, who was a first-class sleaze. One of this boyfriend’s jobs was to scout up prostitutes and other willing adventuresses to serve as escorts for visiting Republican bigwigs, to keep the guests entertained while they were in Arizona.

A few months after I married my husband, the friend who had introduced me to that Republican worthy called on the phone with news.

“Did you read the story in the paper about Jimmy?” All excited…


“He was just arrested driving across the California desert with the largest haul of cocaine that has ever been nabbed!”

Yep. That was Jim. Never did things small.

Last time (and the first time, come to think of it) I looked him up online, which was a couple years ago, he had turned to charitable works after he got out of the slam. He was somewhere in New Mexico, serving as an executive director for some nonprofit working on one of the Indian reservations. What exactly this outfit did was unclear.

Today? No sign of him, that I can find. Or care to spend enough time trying to find.

You thought YESTERDAY was another lovely day in Arizona?

Hah! Every day is lovelier than the next. Check out this little fella..

….and tell me if you don’t think our sweet pet Rattie isn’t one helluva lot cuter than that rat…

Which is cuter? Rat 1 or Rat 2?

Rat 1’s handsome profile was captured early of a fine Arizona day on a neighbor’s security camera.

See that thing in his hand? That’s not a Budweiser…that’s a pistol, wrapped in a plastic grocery bag.

The gate he’s coming out of? That’s an alleyway entry to a neighbor’s backyard. The photo was caught yesterday by someone’s security camera and posted to the neighborhood Facebook page. Said the proprietor: “This individual was spotted at approximately 7:25 this morning exiting our backyard at our home on El Caminito Dr. I did not see any evidence on any of our security cameras of this gentleman entering our backyard.”

At first I thought it was our boy, the one the cops were chasing around yesterday. But now I think this fella is a little older than that kid, healthier-looking, somewhat better built. So we have not one but two of ‘em frolicking around the alleys.

Meanwhile…the evening sun is sinking like a red-rubber pie tin. The air is still thick and brown from the smoke drifting across from the West Coast, the sun so dim you can stare right straight at it. Though one (who does not suffer from asthma) has no problem breathing it, the stuff out there can’t be very good for you.

My plan is to catch Rat 2 and stick her in a cage with a big bowl of bird seed (she loves bird seed) and a bag of oranges (she adores oranges), toss her and the dog in the car, and start driving driving driving. Patagonia, here we come!

Hummer heaven: Patagonia

Another lovely day in Arizona…

So along about 3 or 4 a.m. I happened to remark to a correspondent that the day was shaping up to be a Day from Hell…

Chortle! One should never say things like that. God finds those one-liners too, too funny.

Well, wait though: Her practical jokesterism at least did not extend to conkering out the car. That’s good, no?

Dawn cracked, and I decided to try to find out what could be done about the propane bottle that developed a weird leak after the barbecue cleaning dude reattached it to the system. This was about as fruitful as you might imagine any bureaucratic exercise to be. After jumping through a long and pointless series of phone hoops, I gave up with the city. Called Gerardo, who said he would don his Superman cape and fly over this afternoon. This was another exercise in futility, but as it develops, it’s prob’ly just as well that he didn’t. In fact…very, verrreeee good that he didn’t surface late this afternoon….

But we get ahead of ourself…

First, I go on about my business: traipsing half-way to Timbuktu to visit WonderDermatologist. She agrees that the Thing disfiguring my left-hand finger-flicking finger is yet another precancer and must go. Now.

Does she wonder how I am going to drive with this crucial navigation instrument disabled? Probably just as well that she doesn’t. She practically runs her nitrogen squirt bottle out of juice. This is good. I’m invited to visit her again in two weeks, when we’ll assess how today’s antics worked, and out the door I streak.

Decide to venture across from the 101 on Gangbanger’s Way,  a thoroughfare that runs faster and more smoothly than Main Drag South, which at this time of year is more crowded than Gangbanger’s. Fly low up the freeway, fly low across the city…through the lovely slums that grace the central west side, ahhh yes eventually arriving at the war zone that is the intersection of Gangbanger’s and Conduit of Blight Blvd.

This journey is one endless reminder of Southern California and all that I used to hate about it. The smog. The traffic. The ticky-tacky. The instant-slum tracts. The tired and dreary strip malls. The crowded roads, sun glaring off acres of asphalt. The panhandling derelicts. The exhausted workers navigating the streets on foot. Lordy, but Phoenix is SUCH an ugly city! Just like Long Beach: an ugly place to live.

You know, I do love my neighborhood. It’s a pretty little enclave, gentrifying like mad now that young parents have learned they can put their kids in the Madison schools from here. (Madison is the only decent centrally located public school district.) But driving in from the northwest on Gangbanger’s Way is just deeply depressing…and it gets creepier and creepier as the months pass.. From about 43rd Avenue all the way over to about 23rd Avenue is plain old slum, dirty depressing dangerous and scary. Some of the houses facing Gangbanger’s around 23rd are OK, holding their own; then, eastward-bound, they give way to commercial properties, some of them abandoned.

The city is about to extend the accursed lightrail up to MetroCenter, which is now dead, a ghost mall. Why? It escapes comprehension. The highest and best use of that property would be to turn it into a social service center for the homeless, but the city has big (hallucinatory) plans to revive it as offices and medical centers. Har har harrrrr!!!!!!! So this boondoggle will be yet another fantastical waste of taxpayer money, and the train will continue to transport drug addicts and homeless into our neighborhood.

Catholic Social Services has built a charity home for pore folks on Main Drag South at Conduit of Blight, and an even bigger project has gone up on Main Drag about a half-mile west of that. Alas, while this kind of housing is indeed much needed, projects good neighbors do not make…

So…every now and again I think about whether I should move while I still have the physical strength to do so. And if so, where???? If the church never re-coalesces, there’s really no reason to stay in North Central. Or in Phoenix at all. But where on earth to go???

  • Sun City is a definite NO.
  • Arcadia I cannot afford.
  • Biltmore I cannot afford.
  • The Southern-California style ticky-tacky tracts of the far east and west valley: no, thanks.
  • Payson: eek! no Costco!
  • The south of France I cannot afford.
  • But why not Fountain Hills? Like Sun City, it’s quiet as the tomb, and it’s close to my doctors’ office and close to the kind of shopping I enjoy. Nice view of the mountains, and a straight shot up to Payson, where KJG and Mr. Firefighter hold forth!
  • Oro Valley outside of Tucson is supposed to be very nice, and it’s convenient to Tucson. It is part of Tucson these days, actually.
  • Prescott: a possibility, but further from friends and established huntin’ grounds than I’d like.
  • And of course Patagonia, venue of some lovely country houses just up the road from the border with Mexico…

Depressed after this fine tour of my hometown, I crawl back in the sack for a little nap, hoping to catch up the sleep that ended around 3 this morning.

Soon enough, Ruby jumps to attention. DAWG ON POINT!!!!! 

Something is going wheeeeeeeeeeeee….

What? Rattie’s in the hall? I hear a squeal, and it ain’t the Song, Song of the Rat. No indeed. It’s the serenade of a vehicle that needs a brake job.

WTF? Climb out of the sack, stumble to the front windows, peer out and lo! A cop SUV is idling in the street in front. Two of the biggest rhinoceroses you have EVER seen charge into the front yard (Holy doggerel! Where’s my pistol?). Call the hound to heel…and watch the show.

These vast lumbering critters roust some poor, scrawny little bum out from under the shade trees in front, where he’s been trying to sleep in the gravel.

Yes. That’s on the gravel. Like, little sharp pieces of granite.

Understand: it’s 108 degrees out there. He must weigh all of 130 pounds, he’s filthy, his hair is matted, he doesn’t even have a backpack in tow. They start to rough him up. Amazingly, he manages to slip out of the grip of the guy who’s grabbed him and he takes off down the street. The cops give half-hearted chase but quickly stand down. Doesn’t seem to enter their minds that he could easily hop over the wall into the backyard, just like Matthew the Garage Invader did. Now moderately well armed myself, I watch them give up and drive off. Then I patrol the front and back yards and the alley.

Poor little sh!thead. What do you suppose brings a man to such a pass?

Gerardo did not show up. Good thing! Otherwise he and his suspiciously unilingual cousins would have landed in the middle of this…uhm…manhunt. {sigh} Could be they drove by and saw the game in progress, so decided to move along.

Welp, our visitor having failed to steal today’s Amazon delivery, we also move along: Unwrap the package of tinfoil pie tart pans and combobulate the much-vaunted RAT REPELLANT DEVICES!

The scheme is to punch a hole in a pie tin, run it up the metal rod that holds the bird feeder (endlessly attractive to Rattie), and secure it in place over the existing DYI rat baffle, made of a plastic doodad that has proven too small to discourage our little pal. Fiddle with this briefly, and dayum. I think it’s gonna work. If it doesn’t, at least we had some fun trying it.

The resulting gadgets look weirdly like little flying saucers, come to light on the bird feeders’ hangers. Got them attached fairly firmly (if hilariously) but gave them just enough play to wiggle a bit, should a four-legged critter decide to climb on top of the UFO. Unless Rattie is acrobatic enough to jump down and backward in one motion (from a platform that wiggles), I don’t THINK she can hop from the contraption to the lower end of the hanger. If she can, by golly, she’s earned her share of those bird seeds!

Seriously, I think if she tries to proceed past the tinfoil barrier, she’ll most likely fall on the ground. This will cause an annoyed Rattie but should do no damage to much of anything else.

Cop helicopter shows up a little before 7 p.m. and frantically buzzes the street just to the north, right where my old house resides. They used to materialize every goddamn Friday and Saturday night at 11 p.m. sharp. This is a little early for them…maybe our scrawny guy showed up at someone else’s motel. 😀 Now, shading a little after 7:30, they’ve roared off somewhere else and it’s quiet out there again.

So it goes. That is what we Arizonans call “one helluva day.”

To top it off, WordPress crashed as I was finishing this post, so that helluva day is no longer today but vaguely yesterday. Wouldn’tcha know?