Coffee heat rising

Dog(walk) Days of Summer

Summer is tentatively turning its golden-locked head toward fall. Nights are growing longer, days shorter, and the other day’s violent storm knocked the temps down a few degrees. As I scribble, it’s only 98 out here on the side deck, just fine for breakfast, coffee, and computerized time-wasting.

You think I jest? Yes, it is “only” 98, by comparison balmy with recent days whose mornings have started out at 102. It’s a little drier than it was the other day, too: Wunderground pegs the humidity at a mere 38%, as nothing compared to yesterday’s 64%.

The endless doggy walk…

Ruby-Doo and I got a late start on the morning’s trek — didn’t leave the house till 6 a.m. But to my surprise, we hardly ran into any other dog walkers: only three dogs in a good two-mile perambulation. Which is like…the Twilight Zone, where you wake up one day and discover you’re the only person in the whole town.

What explains this Great Absence? I figure it’s Labor Day: this is the last big three-day weekend of the summer, and anyone who has the means flees the city for one last fling in the cool(er) high country. If you can take off Friday — which lots of people can — you wangle a four-day weekend. And if you work for a government office? Well!

At Arizona Highways — which is run by the Arizona Department of Transportation, making everyone there a state employee — we used to store up our vacation days so they would straddle a three-day weekend. So, for example, my boss would take four days off right after Labor Day, giving himself a week, and two weekends away from the office: (saturday.sunday.monday.tuesday.wednesday.thursday.friday.saturday.sunday) nine days off for the price of four vacation days.

Ultimately, this was remunerative, because the State of Arizona was required to pay you for unused vacation time when you retired. There was a (very generous) limit to the number of days you were allowed to stash for this purpose, but you can be sure that by the end of any given fiscal year my boss was always maxed in that department. 🙂

Didn’t do me much good, because my husband was in private practice and was expected to…oh, you know…show up to work? That kind of unreasonable demand. However, I still got enough vacation days to take off on the junkets he liked to indulge himself in: Hawaii and waypoints.

At any rate, whatever the reason, it was mighty quiet out there between 6 and 7 this a.m.

Susan-B.-Anthony-DollarIn the lengthening shadows of (financial) winter department, I discussed the current budgetary horror show with WonderAccountant. She pointed out that because I never owe any taxes and I get a large refund every year, it’s unnecessary for me to have the feds withhold income tax from Social Security. Cancel that! said she.

Well. Easier said than done.

After some fiddling around on the Internet, though, I finally found a form online. ONE LINE in an entire page of bureaucratic fill-in-the-blanks allows for a “Do not withhold” request. Checking the box and signing at the bottom requires fiddling around with downloading and then printing the form: duly done. then the page suggests you can either mail the form to a Social Security office or drive to an office near you and submit it in person.

So I figured I’d drive up to the SS office in Paradise Valley today and drop this thing off.

But on second thought: There’s no “dropping off” at that place. Dollars to donuts, I can’t just hand this thing across the counter to someone. I would surely end up having to take a seat and wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. Depending on the time of day, wait times range from 45 minutes to three hours.

To turn in ONE FUCKING LINE??????????


Now the plan is to drive this over to the post office, stand in line there (almost as interminably, but surely not for one to three hours), and send it Return Receipt Requested. What a nuisance!

Well. The $300 a month that SS is now extracting from my paycheck will re-fund the empty Emergency Savings account, thereby taking up some of the slack.

That will still leave an $8870 shortfall, per annum.

But, noted WonderAccountant, now that we’ve converted The Copyeditor’s Desk from an S-corp to a sole proprietorship (and paid last year’s taxes!), I can take money out of that without tax consequences.

This year.

But then what?

It looks like the choices are…

  • To get a paying job. (Right! Know anyone in the market for a 74-year-old female employee? Har har!)
  • To cut every expense possible. (Done. Now what?)
  • To hustle up at least net $10,000 worth of business in the coming few months.

Ten grand is an awful lot of amateur novels and Chinese scientific treatises.

Truth to tell, the amateur novelists are paying one helluva lot more than the Chinese scientists. This is because a budding author’s draft magnum opus typically runs upwards of 30,000 words. At 4 cents a word, that’s $1,200. Or more. Usually more. The last two authors who hired me paid over $3,000 apiece. But even at only $1,200, that’s…what?  Three amateur novels would yield $3600, leaving a mere $6,400 in the shortfall. This would require about 20 Chinese scholarly articles to cover.

And that ain’t a-gonna happen. It might be workable if I could extract $3,000+ from every wannabe novelist. That is the going rate – 4 cents a word – if you look it up on the Net and you believe what other editors publish on their websites.  To make enough to generate at least 10 grand a year, then, I’d need to land three or four budding Herman Melvilles. Or Isaac Asimovs…most of them dream of writing science fiction.

The only way I could make that happen would be to really hustle the editing bidness. This would mean showing up at every local club of wannabe writers in the Valley — and showing up regularly. And handing out professionally written and laid-out marketing junk at every meeting. It has to be said that the last two novels I picked up came from members of the West Valley writer’s group.

That outfit meets in Tolleson, almost an hour’s jaunt from my house. It’s a horrible drive, and then you have to sit through three hours of palaver. The members are very nice and a delight to socialize with. But because nothing very useful — for my purposes — is said, it feels like an aching waste of my time. Especially if I have paying work in-house.

If I’m having to go to four or five such groups’ meetings, we could be talking about 12 to 15 hours a month of achingly boring time suck…plus drive time. I cringe! Surely there must be a better way??????



Overlazied and Underpaid…

LOL! Not exactly underpaid, but not doing enough work to matter! Which in Arizona’s summer heat is probably the best way to survive: not working.

Truth to tell, today’s summer heat is not as advertised. It is not going to reach 117 today. Not a chance: at noon, it’s only 110 out there.

The hounds and I rolled out at 4 a.m. so as to get in the mile’s dog-&-human walk before the predicted blast-furnace heat rose up. It was only about 87 at that time — we were told the low would be 90. The morning was actually rather pleasant. We encountered about ten of our fellow dog-walkers, all of whom apparently had the same idea. Arrived back at the Funny Farm around 5:40, fed dogs, watered plants, refilled the pool, tossed in some more chlorine tabs, went swimming.

That must have pleased the neighbors, because Ruby barks hysterically every time I get in the water. Apparently she thinks the human is going to drown. Then (horrors!) she won’t get fed anymore.

Since the neighbors were the cause of my spending the Fourth of July working myself up to a near heat stroke and having to opt out of my favorite party of the year so as to stay home and guard the Farm from the risk of nitwit-initiated fire, I do not give one thin damn if my dog barks them out of the sack on a 90-degree morning. 😀 Bay away, little dog!

All that notwithstanding, the heat and the humidity begin to wear. Just now — along about two in the afternoon — it’s about 115 on the back porch. Not intolerable…but somewhat warm.

Where creative and productive work are concerned, I do best in a cool, fairly gray climate: San Francisco and London are ideal. All this sunshine is a distraction. Actually, what happens is that it puts me in zombie mode. I just do not feel like working.

As in I cannot force myself to do ANYTHING.

Last week I had seven days in which to scribble the current installment of Ella’s Story. Did I write it last week? Was it ready to go come Monday morning?

Hell, no. Of course not.

But I did rack up 50,810 points on the set of games I’ve been playing.


So it was the middle of the afternoon before that got done, and then (IMHO) not very well.

Yesterday the place was overrun with various workers, which rendered writing or editing much of anything…problematic, shall we say.

Happily enough, though, I was rescued from having to pay some batsh!t amount of money to repair the propane grill! Its main knob — the one that turns on the primary burner — was stuck somehow. I thought the tube it attaches to had somehow got bent, and was silently blaming it on one of Gerardo’s cousins, whom I suspected of having whacked it with a leaf-blower.

BBQ repair dude was supposed to show up between 2 and 3 p.m. — try to imagine throwing yourself around with a heavy gas grill, in the sun, in 112-degree heat!

Not surprisingly, this poor fella called in sick. Along about 7 a.m., the office called and asked if they could send someone between 9:30 and 10 a.m.

This put the eefus on my plan to hit the grocery story as soon as rush hour ended. But without an oven, I’ve gotta have that grill working.

Well…”someone” was the company’s owner, an interesting and entertaining man. Forthwith, he discovered that nothing serious was wrong — a little rust or, he thought, just dirt, was jamming a part, He cleaned and lubricated the knob assembly, whilst entertaining me with conversation.

So that was good. Even better: he only charged $68 to fix it!

Man! I was expecting a $200 bill. The original appointment included their whiz-bang cleaning service, which I really did not need and would prefer not to get until after the weather cools off. So he opted that and barely charged enough to cover the gas to drive his truck up here.

So, even after yesterday’s junket to the grocery store, I still have $58 left in this month’s budget, with only a week to go.

At said grocer, I picked up a roll of dog food, meaning the doggy meals are now covered for the rest of the month and then some. Got a very nice watermelon — paying lots more than would have been required at Costco,. but obviating an extra trip to an extra store through the heat.

I may have as much loot as I need to make it to August 1 without having to buy any more food or household items. Possibly not. But whatever comes up surely will not cost $58.