Coffee heat rising

Doggy Cleanup, Toasted with Fireworks

Ruby, having carried her new Ball to her newly inherited Dog Bed, which is covered with her newly laundered plush Dog Blanket, has figured out that if she can induce the Human to throw Ball onto the fabric bed, it will not roll away down the hall and disappear inside a closet or another room. So, hevvin help us, we have a new Game. Arghh! 😀

Ruby has already learned, amazingly, to throw the ball, and at times she even seems to have some control over where it goes. She being a dog, though, her attention span is somewhat limited where things that are not Food are concerned, and so…well…it’s hard to estimate the significance of this. But it’s interesting. And all of that notwithstanding, she being a corgi, it’s very cute indeed.

The Funny Farm is largely disinfected, after a day of spreading Clorox all over the floors. This chore, I’d intended to do a couple of days ago, right after poor little Cassie was dispatched to her maker. But I haven’t had the energy to do it. In the first place, I was exhausted. In the second, I’d put my back out and pulled a rib muscle lifting Cassie on and off the bed and out into the yard and back into the house. So that hurt quite a bit even before my little fall, which surely did not help things. Though I wanted to get to work on assassinating microbes, yesterday I was past moving.

While Cassie was ailing, I found myself on hands and knees four, five, six times a day cleaning up dog pee and dog shit. Poor old dog was too sick and too confused to get herself outside, or to figure out where and when to do it. Even though we had pee mats down all over the house, and even though she would stagger over to whatever mat suited her fancy, often she would miss. A mound would land on a tile instead of on a paper sponge; a puddle would slop over the side of the plastic edging and, by capillary action, seep about a half-mile under the mat.

Mercifully, she favored a limited number of sites for these activities.

Even though of course I cleaned up each event with plenty of Simple Green as it happened, come Saturday morning I still thought…ick!

MRSA S.aureus. Public Health Image Library (PHIL)

So today was the day to scrub up each 4×6-foot site — six of them, in six different rooms — with plenty of Clorox. This, I’ve learned, kills off a wealth of microbes, including (interestingly enough) MRSA staph. You can actually bathe in the stuff — well, in a dilute solution of it — to kill off staphylococci. And, I can attest, it works.

The various loos, then, are madly disinfected. Tomorrow it will be on to mopping up all the rooms, halls, and whatnot with Simple Green, which surely will smell a lot less obnoxious than Clorox does.

Meanwhile…goddammit. I’m exhausted, hurt from top to bottom, and want nothing more than to go to bed…and guess what?

New Year’s and the Fourth of July do not suffice for our brainless local revelers. The neighbors have hauled out their store of fireworks and, as we scribble, are banging them off in all directions. Ruby is losing her doggy mind, yapping her doggy head off, on high alert. The human is madly pissed. And so, I suppose, none of us in all directions will be getting much sleep tonight.

Happy Martin Luther King Day. Jeez.

Done In and Dogged Out

LOL! If it’s not one dawg it’s another.

Well, that’s not funny, given how sick poor old Cassie has been.

Actually, Cassie is presently somewhat better, other than having come completely unhouse-trained. She now poops and pees wherever and whenever she pleases. Fortunately, it’s usually on the pee pads I put in her favorite locales — something that’s getting pretty pricey, since I have to pick up and replace four to six of them a day. But sometimes it’s on the bathroom or bedroom rugs. Yay. At any rate, she doesn’t appear to be feeling as bad as she did.

Which is not to say she appears to be feeling well. I’d guess she’s running at about 80%…maybe 90% on a really good day. Whatever happened to her doesn’t appear to be about to go away.


Last night Ruby started barfing spectacularly. She apparently ate something that made her good and sick. It soon became apparent that this was not a life-threatening thing…but by “soon” we mean sometime after midnight.

Ruby and Cassie both are in the habit of “harvesting” mummified oranges that fall off the trees and dry up, often after having been chewed out by the roof rats. They bring these crispy treats into the house, hide them in the bathroom, and crunch them up into crumbs. What a mess to clean up!

Well, they’ve never made either dog sick before, but apparently this time one of them did.

The real concern, though, when a dog starts barfing, is that we have some nut cases around here — apparently among the drug-addled vagrant population — who have been known to throw poison treats over people’s fences, thereby killing their dogs. It’s a strategy used by burglars, but neighbors have reported having small, harmless dogs targeted. So given both dogs’ corgi-esque love of yapping, of course an unexpected, apparently reasonless barfing attack causes some worry.

By 2 or 3 in the morning, though, her stomach calmed down and she seemed OK. Come the light of dawn, she was fine. Fed her hamburger (cooked) and rice this morning and again this evening: she seems to have recovered.

I, however, have yet to recover from the three-hour night. 😀

Today I managed to get a new chapter of Ella’s Story on-line. Not quite by the self-imposed deadline…but only a day late. Since no dollars are concerned, we need not add the dollah-short part.

But this was accomplished, I’m afraid, not by actually finishing the chapter as conceived, but simply by spotting a natural pause and cutting it off there. Between the sick dogs and my natural laziness and a general feeling of overwhelmed-itude, the truth is I’m not applying myself to this project for the enough hours a day to make the required progress. One of the things it illustrates, though, is how amazing those late 19th-century and early 20th-century writers were, in their ability to produce novels on the installment plan. Dickens, for example…and Poe, I believe, among many others, would write segments of novels for periodicals. And of course, they had deadlines, just like a journalist does.

Having amused myself as a magazine journalist for a good 15 years, I can assure you that a journalistic deadline is one helluva lot easier to meet than one that requires you to make stuff up and then turn your imaginings into something believable. Or at least more or less readable. A workaday magazine or newspaper article pretty much writes itself, growing like crabgrass out of your interviews and research online and in print sources. A piece of fiction? Not so much…

To my intense annoyance, I discovered that somehow WordPress had disappeared Chapter 11. I know I put it online, because I remember the images I posted with it, and because those images still lurk in the “Media Library.” So I had to reconstruct that, yet another time-killer.

One advantage Poe and Twain and Dickens and all those had over us wretches in the Digital Age is that all they had to do was write the damn stuff. They didn’t have to publish it, too. They had…oh, does anyone remember them?…publishers who edited and typeset and designed and laid out and illustrated and proofread and printed and distributed their work. Today those who imagine they will find great fame in self-publishing have to do all that themselves. And none of us is qualified to do all those things well.

Not by a long shot. Nor does having to devote half to three-quarters of your time to jobs you don’t want to do and aren’t really trained to do leave enough hours for you to do what you do want to do and what maybe you’re good at: to write. I am so very tired of spending hour after hour after hour in digital ditz! Just to create a table of contents for the 33 chapters I’ve put online in Ella’s Story required me to do 297 mind-numbing, repetitive, tedious computer operations today. That’s not counting the typos, which in having to be redone probably expanded that number by about 10 percent.

I un-friended the FB writer’s group I’ve belonged to for the past two years or so. That was too bad, because each week they give you a chance to publish some magnum opus…which has conveniently allowed me to publicize my emittances with some regularity. Haven’t noticed any increase in sales, though.

What I have noticed, however, is this 7th-grade mean girl they’ve picked up. She’s very, very nasty. Today she took aim at me. My response to that is simple enough: fuckyouverymuch. I don’t hang around where I’m not wanted, so off I went. That, we might add, will be one fewer electronic time-suck. I don’t know whether organizers of those groups try to moderate them, or if they even can — this one is quite large. But evidently someone needs to.

And now for something completely different… Did you know that you can still read books?

No, I mean real books, the things shaped like boxes with this hinge-like strip along one edge to which pieces of paper are attached.

The Brothers Grimm

Couple months ago, I’m at the Costco and I happen to spot this old-fashioned-looking hardback with an embossed cover and gold-leaf print: Grimm’s Complete Fairy Tales.

WTF!?! Last time I saw that book, it was at my great-grandmother’s house in Berkeley, back in another century when normal people could afford to live in Berkeley. It is a beautiful little production, published by some outfit called Canterbury Classics, out of San Diego. Gosh.

So for old time’s sake, I bought the thing. Stuck it on the nightstand and went off and forgot it.

One evening I started browsing through it and was reminded of what a hoot the original Grimm’s tales were. This is great stuff! And perfect bedside reading, when you’re so tired you can barely lift the dogs onto the sack. They’re very short, pretty light (in a strange and sometimes not-so-light way), and none of them require a sustained attention span.

So the other day I’m back at Costco and what do I find but a whole SLEW of these Canterbury Classics! Hot diggety! How can I leave them alone?

Yes, I know: Impulse Buy Hell. But hey: how often do you get to buy embossed hard-cover books with gold-leaf print all over them?

Grab Bulfinch’s Mythology and, by god, the original Thomas Burton’s Arabian Nights.

This stuff is too, too good. It is going to keep me amused for weeks. Maybe even months.

And so, to bed…


Ruby the Corgi Pup. © 2014 The Copyecditor’s Desk, Inc.

The Brothers Grim: Public Domain,

Frontispiece to Burton’s Arabian Knights. By Adolphe Lalauze (1838-1906) – A plain and literal translation of the Arabian nights entertainments, now entitled The book of the thousand nights and a night Vol. 1, Public Domain,

Dog, Pool

Cassie the Corgi: still alive. Vet whose diagnosis I question thinks she has maybe another three months. Could be. She has her ups and downs…except…with each passing day she has more ups than she has downs.

She’s definitely not cured. Still coughing out of the blue…as just now: she’s just sitting there and hoff hoff. Yet before, she couldn’t bark without falling into a coughing frenzy. Now she barks, as before, constantly — and pretty much cough-free.

So I had this idea of tracking her ailment in Excel. Score symptoms on a scale of 1 (terrible) to 10 (back to normal). Observe result:

Hmmmm…. So what we have here starts on September 28 — about three weeks after this doggy ailment began, or at least after it registered as a serious problem in the human’s estimation. She’s really sick at that point and has been for awhile. About the 26th is when I take her off the fluconazole (the fungicidal Valley fever drug) that has made her very sick, indeed. By the 28th, she’s still incontinent, unable to eat, almost inert. Late in the day on the 29th, she revives. Then the next day she shows signs of a UTI…not just incontinence but blood in the urine. She has lost a lot of weight. I continue to dose her with Temaril-P, which contains prednisone; she continues incontinent. Incontinence is a side-effect of prednisone. But she starts to eat as the effects of the fluconozale wear off.

On the 4th I take her off the Temaril; on the 5th the new vet says the urinalysis shows the dog has a UTI; the original vet says the test doesn’t show anything very serious, but the new vet begs to differ, remarking that the numbers are as high as they can get. Vet 1 wants me to put her back on the drugs. I demur. She continues to cough and wheeze, but once regaining her appetite eats robustly. On the 7th I finally decide to cut back the Temaril and on the 8th have the idea of trying Benadryl. At that point she improves significantly, even attaining to a “10” a couple of times. I start the new vet’s doxycycline for the UTI on the 13th (it takes that long to get the results of the urine culture), and on the 14th she hits a “10.” She relapses on the 25th but then rebounds on the 26th. Today her condition has been mixed but never much below an “8.” That, I would suggest, is one helluva lot better than the scores of “1” that occurred on the 30th, the 3rd, and the 5th. She has a coughing spell at 4:00 this morning, but otherwise has been at the 8 to 10 level all day.

So…what? She seems to be trending better despite an occasional backslide. But does that mean anything? If it does, what does it mean?

Well, I guess all this comes under the heading of “we shall see.”

Meanwhile, pool guys have been in and out all week. They spent a full day jackhammering off the plaster. And the better part of half another day cleaning layers of calcium scale off the tiles….

A-N-N-N-N-D HOLY Shit!

Ruby just had a reverse sneeze episode while she was inhaling her doggy dinner and started choking on her food. I had to run to the kitchen (where she’s fed separately from Cassie to keep her from grabbing Cassie’s food) and for GODSAKE had to apply a Heimlich maneuver to save her little doggy life!

IS this EVER going to stop?????????

Well, she seems OK now. They’re both OK now. For the nonce.

Yes. So. The pool guys. The tiles look essentially brand new. I’m really glad I didn’t have them removed and replaced. They not only look great, of course they’re very mid-century modern. Perfect.

And to gild that lily, the guys who came in today succeeded in replacing and reviving the line that will allow me to attach Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner to a pipe in the wall, instead of having him occupy the skimmer inlet. This means that as leaves and flowers are blown into the pool and settle on the water’s surface, most of them will be sucked into the skimmer basket rather than falling to the bottom to be vacuumed up and inhaled into the filter. And that means the filter will stay cleaner a LOT longer and will run a LOT better.

In the course of chatting, I remarked to one of the men that I consider the pool very easy to care for. He said this will make it even easier to take care of. Most of the time, all I’ll have to do is keep the chemicals balanced.

Now that is an amazing concept.

Here’s how the giant bathtub looks at this stage:

And here’s how the not-yet-deceased damn-near-choked-to-death puppy looks just now…

Poor Li’l Dog

So I’m on my way over to meet my friends, to join them for a Costco junket. It’s almost 9:30 a.m. Hotter than the Hubs of Hades, cruising up Main Feeder Street EW.

And what should come trotting up the road but a beautiful young dog, all black, overheated looking. I stopped. He jumped in my car: a smallish lab mix. My guess would be part pit bull, part lab. I thought he was a pup.

He parked himself in the driver’s seat well, seated conveniently on the gas pedal and the brake pedal. And refused to budge.

Rousted one of the gay guys from the corner house. He’s kind of an old fella and pretty gimpy. Asked if he thought he could help me get the dog into a more practical place inside the car. By the time we got back to the car, the dog had climbed over to the front passenger seat well…which was good, because when the old guy saw the pooch, he said there was no way he could’ve helped to personhandle it.

Brought the hound back here so I could call the folks and put them off.

Get him into the backyard with a bowl of water, which he inhales. But once he gets back into the garage that dog is NOT goin’ back out.

I try to slip into the house around him, but Ruby dodges out.

Forthwith they get into it. Ruby, the little twit, will try to dominate any dog…even if it weighs 30 pounds more than she does. Even if it’s likely part pit bull. Which evidently it is….

Had a time rescuing her. Finally the stray shot into the house, allowing me to fish the now cowering corgi out from behind the car’s exhaust pipe.

That distraction delayed the phone call long enough that the folks were outside waiting for me to show up and didn’t get the call, so I had to drive to their place to tell them what was going on.

Catch them as they’re about to leave for my house. Explain what’s going on. They agree that leaving the dog in the house is impossible and outside in the heat is unwise.

Return to the Funny Farm, by which time I’ve decided to take the dog to the Humane Society.

Unfortunately it’s a kill shelter.

Dog is somebody’s pet. It’s very well cared for, well fed, shiny coat, clean teeth, more or less heels on a leash, sits on command, shakes paws.

I would like to steal him. Probably would, if I thought I could get away with it. Which I don’t.

Often you can find the owner on NextDoor, but I didn’t feel I could risk keeping him even for a few days, since there’s no sane way to keep them separated. Obviously, I can’t keep a dog that’s going to fight with Ruby, even for a short time

Got the dog up to the Humane Society. Yes, he had a chip, but the idiot owner hadn’t registered him! They had no way of finding out who he belonged to. And their shelter was full. They wanted me to drive him down to the county pound, WAY down in South Phoenix — half a tank of gasoline’s worth of driving. And that place is a zoo.

They ended up taking him in and saying the pound would come pick him up from their facility, within 24 hours.

Felt extremely guilty.

Got home to find Ruby in a frenzy. She was SO upset. She ran around and around the backyard and the house baying (did you know a corgi can actually bay?) and barking at the top of her little doggy lungs.

Still felt guilty, but was forced to acknowledge that my first instinct was right: NO WAY could I keep that dog while searching for its owner…or permanently.

I thought, briefly, about seeing if M’jito like to have this dog foisted on him. But in the first place, he’s not a golden retriever (the preferred beast). In the second, he’s very active. And in the third, somebody is no doubt searching for him…or will be, whenever they get home from work.

Mercifully, Ruby doesn’t seem to have gotten hurt. Thank god. Just what I needed: another vet bill!

She’s still batsh!t, though.

Boss dog and recumbent underling

Dog Dunes

You think I exaggerate, don’t you, with that turn of phrase? Really?

Yes. That is from one (1) twenty-pound dog. A mound of hair larger than Ruby’s head!

Is there any question why I seem to be developing an allergy to dog hair?

Well. Yes, there is. This being lovely uptown Arizona, great swaths of dust accumulate on the floors, too. I dust the floors every day… And here’s the accumulation of one (1) twenty-four-hour period:

Yup. As a practical matter, even more dust than dog hair has settled in the course of one day. And nothing is going on. The air is perfectly still: no breezes blowing, no monsoons wailing, nary a soul tracking in and out of the house.

Arizona. It’s where you come to find out what your allergies are.


Fleas?????? Is there ever a break from the timesuck?

So I wake up this morning with a nice little pattern of bug bites on one arm. Now, there’s nothing unusual about the occasional solitary bug bite around this place. Arizona, as the local climate has warmed and the feckless humans have flooded in and tried to clone the upper Midwest wherever they come to light, has been overrun with mosquitoes.

You never used to see a mosquito here. Now they fill your house every spring and hang around until December, when the weather chills down a bit. One day a couple of years ago, I killed a dozen of the little monsters inside the house!

We haven’t had so many this year. I don’t know why. Haven’t had many flies, either.

WhatEVER. All that notwithstanding, I happen to know what a mosquito bite looks like. Having grown up in the Middle East, I also happen to know what flea bites look like.

Mosquitoes are not piggish eaters. They sit down to dinner once and then get up and fly away. Fleas, on the other hand, have never met a blood meal that they didn’t want more of. Right away, please.

So three or four really itchy bites clustered within a radius of an inch or two or three usually means a flea has come visiting.

And you know what that means?

Oh yes.


Time suck of the first water.

You need to get on the job of flea-whacking instantaneously if you’re to have any hope whatsoever that your DIY efforts will work.

So. First thing after the requisite doggy-walk (we do the doggy walk at 5 a.m. because i wish to live and because one corgi will boss a human around but two corgis will reduce the human to full obedience at all times), it was into the bathtub with the hounds.

Actually, before we left, I inspected both pooches for fleas and didn’t find any signs that I recognize. It’s pretty easy to tell if the animal is heavily infested. My mother once brought a badly infested cat home from a pet store…the vet taught us how to recognize flea eggs and flea debris. They don’t seem to have any eggs in their fur, nor did I see any flea sh!t. However, both dogs had a strange dark deposit around their hindmost titties. I think this was dirt — probably congealed urine, since a female dog can spray her belly by accident, especially when it assumes as deep a squat as a corgi does. So I smeared these areas with olive oil, figuring some oil would loosen whatever that was.

Olive oil will not harm your dog, BTW. Baby oil and bath oil may, since they consist mostly of mineral oil. That’s antithetical to an animal that can be guaranteed to lick the stuff off.

So by the time we got home from a mile’s stroll, the dogs had been marinating in olive oil for twenty or thirty minutes.

Into the bathtub.

You do not want to know what a circus it is to launder a corgi. When they say a corgi is “a big dog in a small dog’s body,” that’s not quite spot on. The fact is, under certain circumstances, a corgi IS a big dog.

Two wrestling matches later, the dogs were clean and the bathtub was filthy.

Scrub bathtub out.

Now it was time to gather ALL the bedding, including the bedpad, all the mats the dogs lay on, all the area rugs in the house, all the clothing I’ve worn lately all the towels I’ve used, all the…whatever. These all needed be washed in HOT hot water and then dried on the dryer’s hottest cycle.

Six loads of laundry got stacked in the garage next to the washer.


That thing takes about an hour for every load. So we’re looking at SIX HOURS OF LAUNDRY out there!!!!!!!!!

One of the damn thing’s many charms is that you can’t select “hot” water on most of the cycles. There’s actually only one cycle that lets you select very hot water: the one that’s intended to “sanitize” the inside of the thing, since as we know these so-called “high-efficiency” washers tend to grow mold and stink to high heaven.

“High efficiency.” SNORT!!!!!! How exactly is having to run the electric for SIX HOURS to do a three-hour (or less) job “efficient”?

Then it was time to drag out the vacuum. Vacuum every nook and every cranny in the bedroom. Vacuum every square inch of the mattress and bed springs. This is complicated by  the fact that it’s one of those “pillow top” monsters that were in style at the time I bought the thing. “Pillow tops” are held in place by stitched-down patterns, which collect…yes…dirt and debris. Had to get an orange stick and a stiff brush to dig that stuff out of the stupid stitch thingies and THEN vacuum all that up. Endless.

Then climb under the bed (which weighs too much for me to budge) and vacuum every square inch under there. And vacuum every square inch under the dressers. And in the closet. And up the hall. And in the other rooms. Ugh.

Thank god for tile floors.

It’s almost 10 a.m. Good thing the dogs rousted me out at 5, otherwise I’d still be doing all that. Well, I am still doing all that: the accursed goddamn Samsung washer is grinding away out there.

It’s 10:03 a.m. and I have done no work. I mean, real work on the writing empire. Well. I uploaded an image to the Camptown Races blog, which will be called “Camptown Ladies Talk.” The images I wanted to use turned out to be a) too large and b) too difficult to fit into the header image space without some serious Photoshopping. But I found some images in the public domain that simply defy belief.

If you’d like a preview, you can peek at her here. But IF YOU ARE WITH THE CHURCH, DO NOT GO THERE, DEAR FELLOW CHOIR MEMBERS, CLERGY, AND HANGERS-ON because that will pop your eye out. That site is strictly adults only. Racy adults.

Yesterday I finished what I hoped would be the last chapter of the current Bobbi and the Biker bookoid, but as it fell together, I found Bobbi and Billy demanded at least one more chapter. This is alarming, because we’re already over 7,000 words. Whatever wraps this episode up is gonna have to be succinct.

This weekend I also posted book III of Fire-Rider. The marauding war bands get back on the road, after having flattened a major enemy stronghold, and the journey begins…

And now, speaking of metaphorical journeys, I must away!