Coffee heat rising

Thanks, Mr. Stranger Man…

So once again Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner has choked on a palm-tree seed, and I’ve dragged him (and myself…) up to the Leslie’s Pools store to be dissected, cleaned out, and put back together.

This process is free, but it’s a time-consuming nuisance.

After the palm trees favored in our parts have flowered (these are not date palms), they drop hundreds and hundreds of hard, BB-like black seeds. Right into the pool. Every time the wind blows. Every time it rains.

These BB’s can jam Harvey’s spinning innards, which are propelled by the force of water being sucked through the pool’s filter and pump. When that happens, Harvey comes to a dead stop, and no further pool cleaning gets done. Leslie’s will take him apart, remove the offending bead or beads, and put him back together.

Drag Harvey home, drop him back in the pool, slide the hose into the water so it fills up by displacing all the air in it, repeat. Repeat. Repeat.

A guy was there before me, and only one of the Leslie’s crew was minding the store. The kid said he’d be right with me; I said “no hurry.” So I waited. And waited. And waited. Two other guys came in. They waited. Another guy came in. He waited.

The fourth guy, bored, struck up a desultory conversation, during which I remarked that Harvey had choked on a palm-tree BB.

Now, this guy was an actual, living, breathing pool guy. In addition to fleecing the hoi polloi, Leslie’s does a to-the-trade business, providing deep discounts to people who can prove they’re pro’s.

“You know,” says he, “you can fix that, most of the time, by turning the cleaner upside down and giving it a sharp shake.”

What? “Oh, yeah?”

I flip Harvey over and shake him a couple of times, and POP! Out comes the offending seed. It bounces across the floor.

“Now,” says my informant, “you stick your finger in here and see if this thing will move around.” This thing is some kind of rotor device that resides just inside the hose connection. He demonstrates.

Then he flips the gadget back over.

“He needs new feet,” he says. It’s amazing how the “Harvey” conceit is contagious. Call the thing “Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner” and the next thing you know, everyone is calling it “him.” 😀  “And new wings.”

He then proceeds to advise on how to replace the wings, and, soto voce, suggests buying these parts from Amazon, where (as anyone who knows anything about Leslie’s knows…), they’re much cheaper.

Okay. Sooo…. I slip out the door while our cute young sales clerk is still occupied with Customer No. 1. I’m skeptical about this, but…figure it can’t hurt to schlep Harvey home and try him out.

Drag him into the house. Lash him back up to his hose. Drop him in the drink. A-N-N-N-N-D….

Holy mackerel! He takes off like a rocket!

Harvey has not shot around the pool like that since I had the puddle resurfaced!

I figured his sluggish pace was caused by the coarse, annoying quality of the PebbleSheen. But apparently not!

Two, three hours have passed, and Harvey is still going strong. He does still get hung up on the hateful new Save-the-Proles-from-Themselves drain covers, but instead of staying stuck until I come along and bump him loose, after a minute or two he manages to work himself free.


So I’m going to order the wings from Amazon, and maybe the feet, too — especially if I can find change-’em-out instructions on YouTube. Like, ohhh, say, this one…

Whoever that guy was, he not only saved me a whole lot of time (going forward), but he also saved me a bundle of dough.

I had grown so tired of the repeated junkets to Leslie’s — once every two or three days, during the seed-shedding season — that I’d decided to buy one of the newer Hayward cleaners that runs on wheels. These allegedly can handle the stupid new drain covers and also supposedly suffer less wear on the abrasive PebbleSheen surface. Planned to keep Harvey as a back-up, knowing this new thing will probably gag on palm BBs, too. Thing is…these gadgets cost FOUR HUNDRED AND EIGHT DOLLAH.

At Amazon. Probably more than that at Leslie’s.

Well. Mr. Stranger Man not only showed me a 30-second fix for Harvey, he also (silently) demonstrated that once actually fixed, Harvey runs as well on that PebbleSheen gunk as he did on the old-fashioned nice, smooth plaster!

I’ll be damned.

Of course, sooner or later Harvey will wear out. But when he does, his replacement will only be about $300, not $400+ for the wheelie model.

Meanwhile, I may not have to trim the accursed palm trees at all. Two or three years ago, to Gerardo’s chagrin, I stopped hiring him (or anyone) to climb up there and cut the previous year’s dead growth off. This, because Gerardo decided to schedule this job smack in the middle of the birds’ nesting season. Those palm trees host dozens of birds. One wants those birds up there, because they eat the cockroaches that spawn in goddamn palm trees, and they eat the cockroach grubs that fall in the pool all spring, and they clear out ants at the first sign of a new colony. Because of those birds, I have no roaches, no ants, and precious few other pests.

Well, when Gerardo’s guys barged up there and hacked back the trees, they dumped the nests full of baby birds on the ground.

When I went out there, I found dead baby chicks all over the KoolDeck, and mother birds flying around crying out in despair. Alllll day long.

Lest you think birds do not feel emotions…lest you imagine birds feel no grief, no despair: think again.

So, I’ve never let Gerardo mess with those palm trees again.

That makes them very messy, very VERY much a nuisance. To me and to the neighbors and to anyone who drives a car up the road behind the house during the windy season.

This is a question whose answer has long escaped me: Why do white people have such a fascination with palm trees?????????

What in the name of Heaven and Hell about palm trees so enchants the gringos? They make no shade. They’re ugly as an old stick in the ground. They make no dates. Certainly no coconuts. The only crop these Arizona palms produce is debris!

And they’re very good at producing debris.

They’re expensive to maintain — it costs several hundred dollars to have Gerardo’s guys trim the damn things every spring. They attract lightning. They breed cockroaches. And desert termites. And black widows. And roof rats. At least in Arabia the palm trees produced dates — matter of fact, that and millet were our area’s main crops. But these BB-fruiting things? All the way around, they’re useless, uglee, and nuisancey.

Why, White Man? What is it about these things that you find so charming?

I should have them taken out. But you don’t even want to know what it would cost to have someone come and cut them down. The neighbor across the street has been extirpating his, but he can only afford to remove one or two at a time. It will take several years to clear his yard of the things. At that rate, too, it would take four years to get rid of mine.

Is it worth the trouble?

Somehow, I suspect not.

The Frost Is on the Palm Tree…

…and on the neighbors’ roofs. The Human, consequently, is suffering a spate of severe indolence, much to the disgust of the Dog, a creature of crisper climates. Soon, though, the loafing primate will be forced to get up and trot around the ’Hood with the canid. Then it’s off to the Walmart to pick up some household necessities.

It was 36 degrees out there when the Dog and the Human rolled out of the sack this morning. Just now — along about two and a half hours later — the back porch thermometer claims the ambient temp has warmed to a cozy 41 degrees. Ruby just trotted in, bearing a prize mummified orange, which (unless I get off my duff and steal it from her) she will soon chew up into messy crumbs. There she goes…off to her nest in the back bathroom.

Harvey the Hayward Pool Cleaner is hung up on the new moron-protection equipment at the bottom of the pool. People with not very good sense will swim to the bottom of a pool’s deep end with their long hair floating sexily loose in the water and…surprise! Their hair gets stuck in the main drain (which has very powerful suction), they panic and can’t get loose, and they drown. So to protect such bright folk from themselves, we all get to be inconvenienced: the mandated non-hair-catching drain covers, which were not required by law the last time that pool was replastered, stick up off the floor and trap Harvey, so that he just sits there while the pump runs for eight hours at a time.

Pool Dude says I need to replace Harvey (who was replaced just a year or so ago…and whose life expectancy is a good eight years or more) with a model that has wheels. Right. That’ll be $380, which I don’t happen to have laying around. So…I dunno what to do about that. Maybe just take Harvey out and manually vacuum the pool every week or two. What a PITA.

I may ask Pool Dude if his company can come up with a better price than Leslie’s can. They are, after all, a local outfit, and one of course would rather buy local, all other things being equal. But…not now. Probably not until after the end of the summer, unless I win the lottery.

As soon as the rush hour traffic abates, the dog and I must set out for the daily mile-long circuit around the hood…though I must say, I’d like to take this dog somewhere else for a change of scenery. That would require getting in the car, though, something I find increasingly aversive as the days and months go by.

Yesterday I drove out to Tempe to meet The Kid at our favorite fancy restaurant. She’s now engaged in a new master’s program, with an eye to changing careers altogether. She wants to become a psychological therapist, a calling that (IMHO) she would be very good at.

It only took about 20 or 25 minutes to get out there. But it took over an hour to get home.

Normally one would figure the rush hour begins at 3:00 p.m. here. So at 2:25, westward bound on the 202, it did not register with me that I’d best get off the freeway at 32nd Street rather than driving all the way through to the northbound 51. That was dumb. Yards past the 32nd Street offramp, the traffic started to back up. People as usual were jerking and darting around and cutting each other off…I mean, really, estúpido, what good DOES it do you to be one car-length further on down the road than you already were? So in my inimitable manner I did a bit of my own highly skilled jerking around and cut off the guy who had just cut me off to get into the lane to go north on 24th.

Damn, I’m good! Outa my way, ya crazy fools!

I shoulda been a stock-car driver. Did you know one of my freshman-year roommates raced stock cars? Yeah. Back in the day: she was one of the only female race-car drivers in the country. Nineteen and aught-sixty-two…

The offramp is moving slowly, but it is moving. We cruise past several hundred cars (no exaggeration) becalmed in four side-by-side stopped lanes and we slide off onto 24th Street. From there it is a long drive on the surface streets to the north side of North Central.

I decide to take a favorite short-cut, darting west onto Missouri. Unfortunately, so many people now know about this route that one no longer does much darting on it…unless one is cutting off another of one’s fellow homicidal drivers, of course. Traffic is moving, but at a leisurely pace. Naturally, I forget about the damn school: see a school bus way on down the road. Thank the gods and goddesses, it turns off into a neighborhood. One annoyance out of the way, anyhow.

The favorite restaurant was disappointing: for the second time in a row. The last time, I thought it was a fluke — really, this is one of the best places to eat in the entire Valley. But now it looks like the operative term is was, not is.

Usually the hired help is primo: today the server was well-meaning, for sure…but…well…okay, let’s say it: stump-dumb. He didn’t know a lot about the restaurant business, apparently, and he certainly knew almost nothing about the level of cuisine usually served up there.

But that was probably OK, because the level was decidedly not at its high-water mark. Feeling less than ravenous, I ordered an hors-d’oeuvre  platter of Greek-ish delicacies priced about the same as an entrée, and a cup of fancified tomato soup. The soup had a kind of chemically taste (supposedly “smoked” tomatoes: I suppose the smoke was applied from a bottle). The hummus was overspiced (possibly that’s why it was misspelled on the menu? not really hummus but hummus-like: hummous…). The falafel balls were overcooked, dry, and came with too little tahini to moisten them — just a few smears spread on the plate. The Kid’s salad was…well, a salad: what else can one say?

The wine? I’ve had better from Walmart’s liquor shelf, and got the whole bottle for the six bucks we each paid for a glass of the day’s “special.”

The only part of the meal that was outstanding was the dessert. A berry shortcakey concoction, it was excellent. As for the rest of it: taken together, dessert included, it was decidedly not worth the $43 and change we each paid.

So. I’m thinking the next time I go there, I’m gonna order a cup of coffee and the dessert of the day. Period. I’m sure not dropping another $43 on another meal like what we had yesterday.

Well, the sun is half-way to the yardarm, the frost has melted off the neighbor’s shingles, and so…away!