Coffee heat rising

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!