Coffee heat rising

Here Comes the Sun…

Into the third day of a passing storm. It’s supposed to clear tomorrow…today the sun peeked through for several hours, but then the sky clabbered up again and more rain fell with abandon.

Think (hope!) the bronchitis may be starting to clear up. too. In the morning it feels almost like an ordinary cold. But of course, that’s after I’ve been sequestered inside a closed-up bedroom with two hot steamers running for 10 or 12 hours.

In fact, this morning it seemed improved enough to assay a doggy walk. For day after day, poor little Ruby has been trapped in the house by the rain and by the Human’s ailment. Alas, by the time we got to the outskirts of Upper Richistan, the threat of more rain had escalated to a promise. So we had to cut our expedition short and hurry home — just reached the front door when more rain began to pour down.

Thought we’d try again as the weather cleared but then decided I’d druther go back to bed. Plus as I was peering out the front door to check on the downpour status, I spotted a shady pair trotting past the house, transparently stealing and garbage scavenging, almost surely homeless (read “drug addicts” in these parts). On the way home we saw another sketchy fellow going through a garbage bin in the alley behind Josie’s house. In the rain. Uh huh: N.G.

Back at the Funny Farm: yesterday’s extra CPR Call Blocker coding seemed to have had an effect. The number of nuisance calls dropped to two. I thought I’d found the key to blocking nuisance calls from “Name Unavailable,” but another got through. Called CPR’s excellent customer service; the guy there says blocking “Name Unavailable” doesn’t block “Unavailable” calls, each of which has to be separately, manually blocked. Now I’m thinking the only way to deal with this constant harassment is to tell everyone who needs to reach me that the only way to get in touch is by email, and then unplug the phones. Or cancel the service.

As the day passes, the apparent improvement in the epizoõtic backtracks, and by mid-afternoon it again feels like I can’t draw enough air into the lungs to sustain life. So it was back to bed in the confines of the closed bedroom filled with steam.

This is the kind of sh!t that makes you doubt the entire premise of “Aging in Place.” Really? I’m on the far end of being able to drive around the city when I don’t feel well. What is gonna happen when I’m 80 and I come down with this kind of crud? Or something worse? How will I get food? How will I care for myself? Will I die on the floor with no one to notice till my skeleton has been cleaned by the ants?

I see My Beloved Employer, the Great Desert University, whose administrators are always on the lookout for a way to generate another million bucks, are building an old-folkerie for self-styled intellectuals, to house the aged on the campus. Lots of stuff to do. And you even get to go to classes on the campus!

Whoop de doo.

Well, so let’s look at that with the least jaundiced eye we can manage.

Okay. In theory it looks like a good idea. A lot of stuff is going on at the campus. You would be surrounded by young adults, and if you were ambitious enough and influential enough, you might even be able to engineer some activities that would allow you to interact with the critters. Usually a healthy enterprise, this.

However…truth to tell, Tempe is Chez Pitz. Despite the presence of the university, it’s a bedroom community that doesn’t even faintly appeal to me as a place to live. “Old” is the New N*, particularly among the Millennial set: your chance of engaging with the (mostly commuter) students on the Great Desert University campus is almost nil.

Lovely Tempe

However-ever, one would be to some degree — nay, to a large degree — insulated from the overall Southern California-style ticky-tacky of the East Valley suburban lifestyle.


Yes. But. You would be housed in a multi-story apartment building: a rabbit warren.  No yard. No privacy to speak of. No distance between you and your fellow inmates. And not just any apartment building, but a storage bin for old folks.

What would I do with my little dog in a place like that?

Well. You know exactly what I would have to do with my little dog: find some other home for her. And I would never be able to get a dog again.

Sorry. but a goldfish a substitute for a dog does not make. Life is not life without the companionship of a dog. That is fact.

Thus, quite possibly, a life proctored by protectors who will be there to call 911 if you fall and you can’t get up may not be a life at all.

Tomorrow the weather in lovely uptown Phoenix is expected to be “sunny along with a few clouds.” Let’s hope that’s true. And let’s hope it applies to Life, the Universe, and All That…

The Small Joys of Life in the Desert

Mwa ha ha! Just pressed “BLOCK” on a spoofed robocall number…the first nuisance call that’s gotten through in days. Literally, the nuisance call rate has dropped from a dozen a day (or more) to one a day (or less). woo-HOOO!

Out the door with Ruby the Corgi at a few minutes after 5:00 this morning. Gorgeous morning…and there was nobody out there!

Yes: just a few minutes earlier than usual, the hordes of dog-walkers haven’t stumbled out their doors. Nary once were we lunged at by massive, just-vaguely-under-control guard dogs — the cost of living on the margin of a high-crime “neighbor”hood. On our entire mile-and-a-half route, we ran into just one other dog person: the guy who has the herd of corgis! So of course we had to hang out for a minute or two and chat, he and his dogs being eminently civilized. 😀

Believe it or not, yesterday — June 2nd — was the first day of serious swimming here at the Funny Farm. First time I was able to get into the pool, stay in it, and actually swim around for awhile. The water is still cool, but not so crisp as to raise goose-bumps.

Normally, summer begins around the first week of May. The snowbirds leave town in April, so scared are they of temps in the 90s. NG usually heads for her Denver digs early in April, while IMHO it’s still passing balmy here. So this whole extra month of sweater weather at doggy-walk time and — best of all — no air-conditioning(!!!!!) at any time has been quite the little Godsend. Last month my power bill was $134, some sort of all-time record low for this time of year.

So that’s pretty surprising.

The chard seeds I planted in the pots where their predecessors lived for a good four years, through frost and scorcher, have already sprouted. So, before long I’ll have fresh greens to go with the various dinner menus, rather than frozen spinach.

But speaking of large, threatening dogs populating the local byways, one is always reminded (if by nothing else, by the constant roar of helicopters overhead) that we are gentrifying a neighborhood bounded on two sides by high-crime areas. The corner of Gangbanger’s Way and Conduit of Blight, about a half-mile from the Funny Farm, regularly scores the highest arrest rates in the city. A perfectly acceptable and invitingly shoppable Sprouts resides .8 miles from my house, door to door. I could easily walk down there to shop, adding some exercise and saving, over time, a whole lotta gasoline. But…noooo way! It simply is not safe to walk on Conduit of Blight. Even if you were carrying heat, it wouldn’t be safe.

This means that even to go down to the corner market, I have to travel in a locked car, putting two layers of steel between myself and my…uhm…neighbors. It also means that as a practical matter, I shop at the corner market a whole lot less than anyone should have to. Today, for example, I need to restock because I’ll be spending most of the day tomorrow volunteering at the church and getting stitches pulled out of my gums. To do that, I will get in my car and drive to the AJ’s at Central and Camelback, a 10-mile round trip rather than a 1.6-mile stroll.

I find that deeply annoying.

It happens because the City has neither the will nor the resources to keep vagrancy and crime under control. Things like this happen, for example…all. the. freakin’. time. The sh!thead who set this fire, which incinerated a dozen apartment-house renters’ cars, lived in the apartment’s parking lot, where he was sleeping in his van. Residents complained repeatedly about the guy, but were (they claim) ignored. The apartment building, which once was a fairly nice place, is now owned by the City of Phoenix and is, shall we say, not recommended by Google reviewers who have had the misfortune of living there. It is smack in the middle of one of the most hotly gentrifying districts in the city.

As we scribble, the itinerant perp is under indictment for murdering his father. Why exactly he’s free to wander around and set fire to parking garages remains unclear. Well, no, it doesn’t. We know the reason: the City of Phoenix and State of Arizona do not give one thin damn about the safety of law-abiding, tax-paying residents and so neither entity does a thing to preserve said residents’ safety and property.

The presence of wandering sh!theads and the prevalence of crime petty and major come under the heading of “life in the big city.”

Which brings us to the question of why on earth do I stay in this place?

This morning, with that perennial concern in mind, I was looking at real estate in Fountain Hills, a middle-class suburban redoubt on the far side of Scottsdale. For what I can net on this house, I could buy a more or less comparable place over there. Quite a few such shacks are on the market just now.

Problem is, though…I don’t want to live in Fountain Hills.


a) It’s too damn far away from where I go and what I do.
b) The houses are cheaply built, even the ones that cost somewhat more than an arm and a leg. Views are gorgeous, but the architecture is junque.
c) Apparently there’s no gas service out there. So every house has ultra-expensive electric air-conditioning, and no house has a gas stove.
d) Scottsdale (where you’d have to shop for just about everything) is just not this Walmart Girl’s style.

If I’m going to move away from all my friends, from my son, and from everything I do here, I might as well live in Prescott.

But…I don’t want to live in Prescott.

a) It snows in Prescott. I like my swimming pool and I ain’t leavin’ it behind.
b) I know no one in Prescott and have no desire to build new networks of friends and business acquaintances.
c) If it costs an arm & a leg to air-condition a shack in Phoenix, you do not even want to know how much it costs to heat a place up there!

I could afford to live on the far west side of Phoenix, in one of the Sun Cities. These have exceptionally low crime rates and are, shall we say, quiet. As in the quiet of the mortuary.

But…I don’t want to live in Phoenix’s crowded, tacky, Southern-California-style suburbs.

a) That area has everything you could possibly want now…but it is just mobbed. Awful, crowded, hectic streets and shopping centers everywhere you go outside of the mausoleum-like Sun Cities.
b) I’ve lived in Sun City and am not doing that again, either.
c) Like Fountain Hills, the far west side (on the California side of the slums that spread outward from Maryvale, the kernel of west-side blight in this city) is too damn far away from where I go and what I do.

Beyond the SoCal ticky-tacky (by an hour’s drive or so) is Wickenburg, the West’s Most Western Tourist Trap. Now…I could stand to live in this place. Absolutely. And I could afford it. Except…

a) Out there in the borderlands of the boondocks, that gorgeous yard is going to attract rattlesnakes and coyotes. Ruby the Corgi couldn’t be allowed to walk around out there unattended. Not and live long, anyway.
b) If Fountain Hills and Sun City are too far away, Wickenburg is on the far side of the galaxy.
c) I cannot live without a Costco.

It’s hard to imagine how I could find a place comparable to this one, which has everything I like in a dwelling and few things (other than the resident drug-popping transients) I don’t like, in an area that is safer, centrally located, and reasonably affordable.

So, as they say, il faut cultiver notre jardin.