Coffee heat rising

A Dog in the Night…

Arghh! Ruby just had a barking frenzy, MUST GET OUT IN BACK arf arf arf arf arfety arf arf!!!!! 

{sigh} Get up. Open door.

Dog shoots out like a charging rhino. A very short rhino…

Neighbor’s pipsqueak dog is yapping. That’s prob’ly what set her off.

Chase after her. She heads straight for the rat trap, craftily arranged next to the entryway to Ratty’s nest in the cat’s-claw tangle.

DOG!!! DON’T EAT THOSE APPLES! Those are for Rattie!

Chase dog away from rat trap. Rattie can be heard hissing inside the shrubbery. Did you know rats can hiss like a cat? Oh, well…now we know she’s home.

All that hullabaloo will probably chase her away from the bait. Now it’ll be another week or two before I can set the trap to catch her. The plan just now is to lay little pieces of fruit out, arranged in a trail that leads into the cage trap. But secure the trap door open, so she gets used to going in there and eventually will be lulled into taking pieces off the small metal shelf that actually is the trap’s trigger.

She seems to like apples. But Rattie being a fruit-eating critter, last night I cut up a couple of grapes and tossed those out there. She was havin’ none o’ that.

So. Okay. Rats don’t like grapes.

Who knew?

Actually, it may make sense. Grapes are toxic to dogs, whom domestication has rendered pretty brainless. Could be the things are toxic for rats, too…only rats have enough sense not to eat poisonous fruits.

Ruby is now determined to get out the back door and investigate the rat issue…which is a dog way of saying “…and eat those pieces of apple.”

ohhhhh gawd! On that note, I’m going to bed, already! 😮

Funny’s New Clothes…

So now we have a new template for Funny about Money. To my eye, it looks amazingly like the one we had before, but it’s all up-to-date, current with contemporary styles, and should run trouble-free (I hope) for a few more years. The Comments work fine in this new costume, solving the problem that had developed with the last template.

This small miracle was worked by our Web guru, Grayson Bell of iMark Interactive. None of it was anything that I could have pulled off on my own — nor is any of the other magic he occasionally works here. If you have a website and need a behind-the-scenes pro to keep it looking its best, Grayson’s your man.

Thanks, Grayson!

♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Scam Alert

One ringie-dingie…two ringie-dingies… In comes a robocall from some outfit claiming to be Amazon, saying I’d made a $400 charge there and they were calling to confirm that.

This is complete BS.

DO NOT ENGAGE with these crooks. Check your Amazon account for charges, and then contact Amazon’s customer service. They will check further to be sure nothing is amiss.

If you’re senior-citizen age or you have older relatives, you should be aware and alert older folks to this scam. Crooks get age-related lists of names and phone numbers from outfits like AARP and target older people with this sort of hustle, because elders tend to be more trusting or more easily confused than younger people. Hang up on them!

Adventures in Home Ownership: “Foist It Off” Edition

How tired can you get from watching someone else work? Just this moment, I’d say plenty. 😀

Yesterday nothing would do but what I had to take on the overgrown layers of foliage that border the west end of the pool. The pool equipment is hidden behind a veil of cat’s claw vines, which climb the steel fencing around the gear. “Veil” had morphed into “pile” over the past few years. Cat’s claw, an invasive and pesky imported plant so named for its scratchy little thorns, is a vigorous and aggressive monster of a vine. Like the jungle plants that cover ancient cities in the Amazon, it will inundate anything around it, leaving nought but a green mound visible to the human eye. It has its uses, but must be kept under control

That latter bit has decidedly not happened in the Funny Farm’s backyard.

A blue plumbago — a lovely plant — had disappeared beneath the green tsunami, as had much of a very assertive rose bush. A cape honeysuckle, quite a pretty shrub, had escaped being submerged by growing about 12 feet high. Green tentacles were reaching out to eat the Meyer lemon on the far end of the planting bed.

So yesterday afternoon I managed to trim back the rampant growth on the north and south faces of the pool-equipment fence, but couldn’t reach the towering overgrowth without a ladder. That plant extends  about 12 feet high. Instead, I wanted to free the rose bush from the strangulation…not an auspicious job: the rose is about dead, suffocated beneath the jungle. WHAT a gawdawful mess over there! The rose and the cape plumbago and the blue honeysuckle were BRAIDED with cat’s-claw runners.

About the time I got most but not all of the cat’s-claw runners unwound and pulled out of the ornamental plantings, along came the cops. 

Is there some reason we can’t have any peace in this place?

Cop copter streaks in, barely clearing the tops of the palm trees, and starts roaring around down at the end of the next street north. That’s one (count it: 1) row of houses north of where I’m standing with the back gates unlocked and the inside gate hanging open. They’re actually searching the end of that block and the alley that runs behind the Funny Farm. Drop everything and run to shut and lock the gates. Stumble inside and think Fu*k it! Time to knock off anyway.

Probably a good thing: I was getting pretty tired, and it did, as predicted, reach almost 100 degrees yesterday.

Anyhow, what I thought would be a two-day job morphed into at least four days’ worth. Maybe more: wasn’t counting on how much dead stuff underneath there would be.

At the point when this realization dawns, the giant trash bin in the alley is now full to the top. Trash pickup isn’t until next Thursday.

This seriously risks the neighbors reporting me to the city, since you can’t miss where all that cat’s claw came from. The reason I’ve let it grow out there is that it adds about three feet to the height of the six-foot backyard wall. Many of the neighbors have piled a couple extra courses of cinderblock atop their original walls — very possibly without benefit of permit. Apparently nothing will be done about this particular violation unless a neighbor complains. Which of course they won’t, because they’re doing the same. The cat’s claw gives me, legally, an eight- or ten-foot wall that the local prowlers can’t see over, making it impossible for them to spot the dog door or to case the windows and human doors on the back side of the house.

This morning I took on the tangle of dead twigs and branches that were left behind (though more cat’s claw needs to be trimmed off the top of the mound — that will require risking life & limb on a ladder). Filled the wheelbarrow three times and BARELY cleared out most of it. There’s still at least two more barrows-ful under there, and when I climbed in under the damn mound to pull out a gigantic sucker, what should I find but a goddam GROVE of baby palm trees growing under there!!!

With the trash bin in the alley already almost full, I figure I’ll have to sneak the wheelbarrow down the alley to dump the debris in other houses’ bins. This won’t matter much, because none of those people ever seem to throw anything away — only the young parents across the alley (four tiny kids = a whole lot of diapers and junk-food wrappers!) and I seem to use the one that serves four houses here.

After wrestling and yanking and cutting and hacking, I come to appreciate one basic fact: I am too old and too out of shape to keep on doing this for the next four days or so. That’s how long I figure the job will take, with me working until I can’t lift my hand, giving up, and then coming back out the following day.

***

Stumble inside. Call Gerardo to see if I can put him up to fixing this mess.

He says he’ll be over at 1:00. That means 2:00. Eventually he surfaces, along about 4:00 p.m.

Gerardo’s men cleaned up the mess out back, per my instructions. They did more in under an hour than I figured to accomplish in another three for four days!

Yellow yard
Yellow: the desert’s favorite color.

Gerardo, if you calculate how much he earns here and then expand that out to, say, six hours a day, giving him two hours to drive from pillar to post (and he does — he has jobs ALL over the Valley), and then has to schlep to the dump on the far, far north side: at $80/job, if he can get in two jobs per hour he’s earning $160/hour, which would give him $960 a day. However, from that he has to pay his two underlings (who are his cousins and so know where he lives…) and cover the costs of fuel and maintenance for his truck, trailer, and lawn equipment. And he says it costs $50 to take a load into the county landfill.

Hard to guess what he nets…but…some years ago I read a newspaper article (remember when we had newspapers?) going on about where the Valley’s largest concentration of millionaires resides. Turns out it’s not Paradise Valley or Scottsdale…it’s a mid-middle-class development on the westside called Arrowhead. Nice, but not gaudy: these folks don’t put on airs. And as it develops, a large number of our millionaires are in the landscaping business. Hard, grody work, but if you work smart and handle money well, you can make a decent living at it.

At any rate, he’s highly motivated to give a low-maintenance yard like mine a lick and a kiss, since he no doubt earns a lot more elsewhere. I asked a guy who was working on a house over in Richistan to give me an estimate, and what he wanted was so ridiculous I can’t even remember it. Gerardo has been trying to build his business in commercial properties — apartment complexes and office buildings. No doubt that kind of work would add up to a lot more per job, and require a lot less schlepping around.

So…yeah. I’ll have to chat with him about keeping that damn vine under control. One major problem is that Gerardo and his guys are not really gardeners. They’re landscape maintenance dudes. That means they do the heavy, broad-stroke work, but not the dainty little details of planting and cultivating things. They seem not to know much about plants — they know about lifting and heaving.

Thank the heavens…since that’s something I’d like to know as little about as possible. 😀

Standing By…but Not Standing Back

…got fruit?…

As we noted a day or so ago, the comments section at Funny isn’t working properly. Some readers may be able to post a comment in the “Reply” feed, but it won’t show on the site. Yet. It will be forwarded to me, though, meaning I can see it. But no one else can. Feel free to stay in touch! 🙂

Funny’s Web guru has located a new template that’s remarkably similar to the one we’ve been using. But he’s had to go out of town, so it’ll be awhile before the issue is fixed.

Meanwhile, life continues. Ruby the Corgi has proved her worth as a ratter. Did you know corgis are bred as ratters as well as for herding? Yes. You have never seen anything move as fast as this dog when she launches after her prey. Except, of course, for Rattie.

For some years, Phoenix has been infested by roof rats, a relatively small rat (compared to a sewer rat) that favors fruit. I think of the little pest as a kind of wingless fruit bat, actually. They’re attracted by citrus — of any kind: Rattie will happily eat the Meyer lemon outside the back door. They’re strangely charming, in a rattish way. The problem, though, is that they’re extremely destructive. They can climb straight up a block wall…and once they get into your attic, they’ll gnaw on the wiring — which can cause a fire. Get under the hood of your car, and they’ll eat the hoses and wiring. Got a washer in the garage? They’ll chew up both the wiring and the hoses! Inside your house, they’ll slip in behind the sofa, dig their way inside, and establish a nice comfy nest in the furniture, there to bring up the family.

So: needless to say, no matter how cute Rattie may be, she’s gonna hafta go.

The easiest way to dispose of these fine creatures is poison. Last time I had one as a guest, she took up residence in the garage, underneath the washer. . At that time my room-mate was a German shepherd, who was pretty easy to keep an eye on. This made it possible to lay poison bait behind the washer & dryer and keep an eye on the place until the victim croaked over in the middle of the floor.

Today, however, Rattie has staked out her territory in the backyard. First off, she built a nest under the westside deck. After I stuffed steel wool into every nook, crack, and cranny around the thing, she moved into the river rocks that line a drainage ditch across the backyard, and then built a cool tunnel along the base of the cat’s-claw hedge.The backyard is inhabited by Ruby the Corgi, and so poison is out of the question.

Wilier strategies are in order.

My son gave me a box of sticky-board traps. Problem is, Ruby got stuck in one of those at his house, and it was quite the little fukkin’ disaster. The dog almost croaked over in her terror, and to free her, we had to hack the thing out of her fur with a pair of scissors.

He also gave me a couple of cage traps. These ingenious devices have a little platform that’s connected to a delicate catch. You put the bait on this platform and when the critter lifts it up, it releases the door, trapping the critter inside.

Very clever.

Problem is, rats are very clever, too. Indeed, most likely they’re more clever than the human. Rattie has successfully evaded the glue traps. I barricaded Ruby out of the area under the tree where I placed these traps, by surrounding the tree with a wire garden-border fence — plenty of room for Rattie to get through to her favorite lemon stash, but not enough for Ruby to squeeze through.

Or so I thought.

Took her a week or so to find her way inside there. Once she was in, she panicked. Luckily I spotted her and managed to get her out before she flailed onto the glue traps…Whew!

Rattie built a nice nest in the middle of the marjoram patch. Tossed a glue trap in there. She moved on.

Next trick: try to lure her into the rat cage. First time I tried these, Rattie laughed. Noooo…not interested in your peanut butter, thankyouvery much. A cruise of the Web produced some clues: get the critters used to the traps by locking the door open and putting food in there for several days & nights, so they expect to find treats in there.

Well. This sounds good, eh? Little pieces of fruit around the entry, a few inside the little palace.

These gems looked good, too: to the resident mockingbird. He would be the critter who unearths seedlings and yanks exotic little vines out of their pots.

Adjust strategy: place the fruit out at night, after the birds have gone to roost. Keep Ruby indoors, so she doesn’t eat the fruit herself.

So now we’re on the second night of baiting the un-set trap. We shall see if Rattie can be fooled. She’s a smart little beastie, so it remains to be seen whether she can be trained to go inside the trap and munch on a bait set on the spring platform.

Too bad she’s such a nuisance and that she carries any number of noxious diseases and parasites. She’s kinda cute. In a rattish sorta way. 😉

Why am I a cranky old bat? Because…

Started the morning annoyed…possibly nothing new about that, since I have the personality of a hummingbird. (Did you know the ancient Inca thought hummers were the reincarnated souls of warriors, because of their irascibility?)

Ruby is supposed to go to the vet to get the tartar scraped off her little teeth next Monday. This appointment was made six months in advance, to my initial annoyance — I fail to see an excuse for that. But OK, no hurry, so who cares?

But now that we have the covid horror, Dr. Bracken — like all the vets in town — is requiring people to park and call from their car, and then they’ll come out and take your animal from you.

The more I think about that, the more I think…huh-UH! i ain’t a-gunna do that to my little dog. Ruby doesn’t like to ride in the car in the first place. But she’ll be absolutely terrorized if some total stranger comes up to the car and drags her out and hauls her into a place she hates. I think that’s rather a bad idea, don’t you?

So I called and said I’d like to put the dental cleaning off for another six months, by which time I hope the covid flap will have settled down. His phone lady puts me on hold with a LOUD — we might even say ear-splitting — recorded spiel, the usual bullshit from veterinarians about all the terrible things that are gonna happen to your dog or your cat if you don’t get this unnecessary test and that unncessary test and half-a-dozen unnecessary vaccines. (Interestingly, a group of scientists tested a large set of dogs starting in puppyhood to see how long the immunity from a single set of standard shots last. They had to stop after 7 years — at which time the dogs were still immune to all of the standard diseases for which they’d been vaccinated!). So this obnoxious high-volume sales pitch goes on and on and on, until I finally hang up.

So now I’m looking for some ways to clean Ruby’s teeth, not an auspicious prospect because I’ve let it go way too long. She hates to have her teeth cleaned and puts up such a fight that I finally gave up, so her back teeth are encased in tartar. Some people, however, claim that if the dog can be persuaded to chew on a heavy marrow bone or even on a rope chew toy, that will break a lot of that tartar off. I kinda doubt it but figure it won’t hurt to try. She really needs to be knocked out cold and have those teeth scraped. But…how that is going to happen in the Time of Plague escapes me.

I’m also thinking I’ll try to find another vet to do this…maybe one whose staff is capable of answering the phone.

Pool Dude lost his dog last week. The critter fell sick. He tossed the pooch in the car and shot up to the emergency vet, where…yeah, they made him wait in the parking lot until they got around to coming outside to get the dog. During that time the dog stopped breathing and died.

See, said he, that is WHY I came up to an emergency veterinary hospital: because the dog was desperately sick.

Oh, said they.

{sigh} We’re surrounded by morons.