Coffee heat rising

Another lovely day in Arizona…

So along about 3 or 4 a.m. I happened to remark to a correspondent that the day was shaping up to be a Day from Hell…

Chortle! One should never say things like that. God finds those one-liners too, too funny.

Well, wait though: Her practical jokesterism at least did not extend to conkering out the car. That’s good, no?

Dawn cracked, and I decided to try to find out what could be done about the propane bottle that developed a weird leak after the barbecue cleaning dude reattached it to the system. This was about as fruitful as you might imagine any bureaucratic exercise to be. After jumping through a long and pointless series of phone hoops, I gave up with the city. Called Gerardo, who said he would don his Superman cape and fly over this afternoon. This was another exercise in futility, but as it develops, it’s prob’ly just as well that he didn’t. In fact…very, verrreeee good that he didn’t surface late this afternoon….

But we get ahead of ourself…

First, I go on about my business: traipsing half-way to Timbuktu to visit WonderDermatologist. She agrees that the Thing disfiguring my left-hand finger-flicking finger is yet another precancer and must go. Now.

Does she wonder how I am going to drive with this crucial navigation instrument disabled? Probably just as well that she doesn’t. She practically runs her nitrogen squirt bottle out of juice. This is good. I’m invited to visit her again in two weeks, when we’ll assess how today’s antics worked, and out the door I streak.

Decide to venture across from the 101 on Gangbanger’s Way,  a thoroughfare that runs faster and more smoothly than Main Drag South, which at this time of year is more crowded than Gangbanger’s. Fly low up the freeway, fly low across the city…through the lovely slums that grace the central west side, ahhh yes eventually arriving at the war zone that is the intersection of Gangbanger’s and Conduit of Blight Blvd.

This journey is one endless reminder of Southern California and all that I used to hate about it. The smog. The traffic. The ticky-tacky. The instant-slum tracts. The tired and dreary strip malls. The crowded roads, sun glaring off acres of asphalt. The panhandling derelicts. The exhausted workers navigating the streets on foot. Lordy, but Phoenix is SUCH an ugly city! Just like Long Beach: an ugly place to live.

You know, I do love my neighborhood. It’s a pretty little enclave, gentrifying like mad now that young parents have learned they can put their kids in the Madison schools from here. (Madison is the only decent centrally located public school district.) But driving in from the northwest on Gangbanger’s Way is just deeply depressing…and it gets creepier and creepier as the months pass.. From about 43rd Avenue all the way over to about 23rd Avenue is plain old slum, dirty depressing dangerous and scary. Some of the houses facing Gangbanger’s around 23rd are OK, holding their own; then, eastward-bound, they give way to commercial properties, some of them abandoned.

The city is about to extend the accursed lightrail up to MetroCenter, which is now dead, a ghost mall. Why? It escapes comprehension. The highest and best use of that property would be to turn it into a social service center for the homeless, but the city has big (hallucinatory) plans to revive it as offices and medical centers. Har har harrrrr!!!!!!! So this boondoggle will be yet another fantastical waste of taxpayer money, and the train will continue to transport drug addicts and homeless into our neighborhood.

Catholic Social Services has built a charity home for pore folks on Main Drag South at Conduit of Blight, and an even bigger project has gone up on Main Drag about a half-mile west of that. Alas, while this kind of housing is indeed much needed, projects good neighbors do not make…

So…every now and again I think about whether I should move while I still have the physical strength to do so. And if so, where???? If the church never re-coalesces, there’s really no reason to stay in North Central. Or in Phoenix at all. But where on earth to go???

  • Sun City is a definite NO.
  • Arcadia I cannot afford.
  • Biltmore I cannot afford.
  • The Southern-California style ticky-tacky tracts of the far east and west valley: no, thanks.
  • Payson: eek! no Costco!
  • The south of France I cannot afford.
  • But why not Fountain Hills? Like Sun City, it’s quiet as the tomb, and it’s close to my doctors’ office and close to the kind of shopping I enjoy. Nice view of the mountains, and a straight shot up to Payson, where KJG and Mr. Firefighter hold forth!
  • Oro Valley outside of Tucson is supposed to be very nice, and it’s convenient to Tucson. It is part of Tucson these days, actually.
  • Prescott: a possibility, but further from friends and established huntin’ grounds than I’d like.
  • And of course Patagonia, venue of some lovely country houses just up the road from the border with Mexico…

Depressed after this fine tour of my hometown, I crawl back in the sack for a little nap, hoping to catch up the sleep that ended around 3 this morning.

Soon enough, Ruby jumps to attention. DAWG ON POINT!!!!! 

Something is going wheeeeeeeeeeeee….

What? Rattie’s in the hall? I hear a squeal, and it ain’t the Song, Song of the Rat. No indeed. It’s the serenade of a vehicle that needs a brake job.

WTF? Climb out of the sack, stumble to the front windows, peer out and lo! A cop SUV is idling in the street in front. Two of the biggest rhinoceroses you have EVER seen charge into the front yard (Holy doggerel! Where’s my pistol?). Call the hound to heel…and watch the show.

These vast lumbering critters roust some poor, scrawny little bum out from under the shade trees in front, where he’s been trying to sleep in the gravel.

Yes. That’s on the gravel. Like, little sharp pieces of granite.

Understand: it’s 108 degrees out there. He must weigh all of 130 pounds, he’s filthy, his hair is matted, he doesn’t even have a backpack in tow. They start to rough him up. Amazingly, he manages to slip out of the grip of the guy who’s grabbed him and he takes off down the street. The cops give half-hearted chase but quickly stand down. Doesn’t seem to enter their minds that he could easily hop over the wall into the backyard, just like Matthew the Garage Invader did. Now moderately well armed myself, I watch them give up and drive off. Then I patrol the front and back yards and the alley.

Poor little sh!thead. What do you suppose brings a man to such a pass?

Gerardo did not show up. Good thing! Otherwise he and his suspiciously unilingual cousins would have landed in the middle of this…uhm…manhunt. {sigh} Could be they drove by and saw the game in progress, so decided to move along.

Welp, our visitor having failed to steal today’s Amazon delivery, we also move along: Unwrap the package of tinfoil pie tart pans and combobulate the much-vaunted RAT REPELLANT DEVICES!

The scheme is to punch a hole in a pie tin, run it up the metal rod that holds the bird feeder (endlessly attractive to Rattie), and secure it in place over the existing DYI rat baffle, made of a plastic doodad that has proven too small to discourage our little pal. Fiddle with this briefly, and dayum. I think it’s gonna work. If it doesn’t, at least we had some fun trying it.

The resulting gadgets look weirdly like little flying saucers, come to light on the bird feeders’ hangers. Got them attached fairly firmly (if hilariously) but gave them just enough play to wiggle a bit, should a four-legged critter decide to climb on top of the UFO. Unless Rattie is acrobatic enough to jump down and backward in one motion (from a platform that wiggles), I don’t THINK she can hop from the contraption to the lower end of the hanger. If she can, by golly, she’s earned her share of those bird seeds!

Seriously, I think if she tries to proceed past the tinfoil barrier, she’ll most likely fall on the ground. This will cause an annoyed Rattie but should do no damage to much of anything else.

Cop helicopter shows up a little before 7 p.m. and frantically buzzes the street just to the north, right where my old house resides. They used to materialize every goddamn Friday and Saturday night at 11 p.m. sharp. This is a little early for them…maybe our scrawny guy showed up at someone else’s motel. 😀 Now, shading a little after 7:30, they’ve roared off somewhere else and it’s quiet out there again.

So it goes. That is what we Arizonans call “one helluva day.”

To top it off, WordPress crashed as I was finishing this post, so that helluva day is no longer today but vaguely yesterday. Wouldn’tcha know?

 

This, That, and the ‘Tother…

Drawing a bit of a blank about what to write about this morning. Yesterday evening I had some brilliant idea, but now can’t remember it. But of course I can’t remember my name, so…no surprise there.

Here’s an Abert’s towhee out here in the backyard, pecking up some bugs under the paloverde tree. They’re effective insectivores — the birds, that is; not the trees. Along with a thrasher or two and a passel of sparrows, they’ll keep your yard free of ants and any number of other little crawlers.

Most of the hummers have (wisely enough) migrated north. They’re leaving the Valley earlier each year, in response to the climate change that doesn’t exist.

The Anna’s hummingbird used to migrate with them. They stopped doing so, though, with the influx of human admirers who hang out sugar water for them. For many years they buzzed about the Valley all year round. But this particular variety of flying gem is also damn scarce this spring…summer, or whatever it is. Reloaded all the feeders but have only seen one or two of them. So presumably this is yet another loss to what was once a pretty spectacular quality of life in Arizona.

My son says he wants to buy 40 acres in southeastern Utah, park a Tiny House in the middle of it, and go completely off the grid. Just him and his golden retrievers.

I have to say…there are times when that sounds pretty damn good. Think of how many unpublishable novels a creative type could scribble under those conditions.

😀

But turning to the writing career, let us speak of cabbages and journalism…  The other day I picked up a sort of scholarly disquisition published by a Canadian university press. It is, shall we say, spare. Not to say “slight.” Which is, yes…that is what it is.

It’s only about 100 pages of copy, including a very lightweight introduction that does nothing but outline the book’s contents.

Looked at that thing and thought…huh! What I’ve already got in the “Drugging of America” series would fill that much space. Especially if, as this guy’s book is, it’s set in large type with wide margins. The guy has gotta be someone’s son-in-law.

So I decided to trick out a proposal. Preparatory to that, I took the first post and de-bloggified it yesterday. First step was to convert the links to end-notes.

Well. Naturally this led to another garden stroll through the Internet. HOLY shit, but this is a rich topic. Madly saved sets of links to a new Wyrd file, and came up with material for a good three more chapters. This would give the proposed book ten solid chapters, plus an introduction, plus a bibliography. And that would be one heckuva lot stronger than this little hardback I’m looking at now.

So over the next few days, I need to write an introduction, a chapter outline, a TofC, and a proposal. In a week or two, I hope to have that ready to send off. I’ll also send it to Columbia, which has published another of my books. And the UofA Press, where I have friends who have friends.

Step aside, Barbara Ehrenreich…

Choir season is winding toward its end. It’s been a splendid year with our two new musicians operating as director and associate director. The latter proposes to give voice and music lessons over the summer.

A friend and I have already imposed on her for the same, during the past couple of months. She (assoc. director) would like to be paid in the form of donations to the church. That would’ve been OK if I hadn’t used a large slab of this year’s required minimum drawdown from retirement savings to pay off the damned car. But having done that, I’m running dangerously low on money — have about four grand to last till the end of the year…and since operating this shack, eating, and maintaining the hounds and the car cost about two grand a month…well. Houston, we have a problem.

Really, I don’t know how I’m going to get through the summer, to say nothing of making it to the end of the year.

Complicating matters, the pool replastering job can’t be delayed much longer. There’s a crack under the coping that clearly extends through the shell, meaning the water that’s leaking through it is quietly creating some major structural problems. So that needs to be fixed.

Maybe it can be patched. But that will not fix the other issue: the plaster is flaking off because it’s almost 15 years old. That will cost four to six grand.

Ohh well…

Speaking of the writing career, I told myself I would finish (or at least make progress on) a chapter of Ella’s Story. Since I have to be out of here in an hour and a half to meet my business partner in lovely downtown Tempe, I seem to have procrastinated about as much as possible on that scheme.

And so, away…