Coffee heat rising

HOLY Good Morning, America!!

Dog and I were rousted out, along about 6 a.m., by a mighty blast of lightning. Holy mackerel! Because it was prefaced by an ominous rumble, I thought it was an explosion at first. Another meth lab bites the dust? But quick enough you could see the blue flashes of lightning flickering through the draperies.

Will, our neighborhood town cryer, noted it on the ’Hood’s Facebook page. A whole slew of followers commented. One woman thought a plane had hit the house. Another brilliant soul went outside to check it out (forgodsake — why not wear a TV  antenna attached to the beanie on your head, too?)

Covered the BBQ, but the kite-like wicker chairs on the side porch were still outside, so I had to race out and drag those in the house. Not much wind came up, though, and just a spattering of rain. Wunderground reports a 60% chance of rain today, dropping off tomorrow, and then back to a noticeable level over the weekend. Should be innaresting.

And the pool dude just came and went…yay!  That gent has turned out to be a large success. Very, very nice man — and pleasantly chatty, which is nice when the person is only around for 20 minutes or so. Even though I haven’t lifted a finger since he started working here, the pool looks gorgeous — ALL the time, not just for the 10 minutes after it was cleaned. Dunno how he’s doing that, but I think he’s worth every penny he charges.

Now I’m going to be forced to get up off my duff and drive to the grocery store, it being after 9 a.m. so I can turn left out of the ’Hood. The bronchitis seems to be letting up, just a bit, and so I’m hoping it will be about gone in another week or two. Even after two 15-hour nights of sleep, plus another 9 hours last night before this morning’s little freshet, I still feel so tired I can barely stumble around. Driving the car seems contraindicated, but there’s no other way to get food. Soooo…

The low-cholesterol diet regime is, IMHO, just about as obnoxious as the bronchial infection. It’s darned hard to think of anything to eat for breakfast that I want to eat, that is low in fats, and that tastes good. The guacamole scheme was a FAIL, as of course is anything spread on bread, which makes me blow up like a balloon. A couple pieces of grilled fish reside in fridge, but…yuch. A chunk of cold halibut is not what I want to greet the day with.

While I’m out today, I’ll have to drive down to the big Sprouts downtown to look for free-range, air-cooled chicken. I really dislike factory-raised, saltwater-infused chicken — just vile! — and so I don’t eat it, because I have to go way, wayyyy out of my way to get unadulterated poultry.

Ultimately what I may have to do is just take a chance that getting rid of the daily cheese-laden breakfasts will do the trick. But…honestly, I really don’t want to argue with YDK the next time I drag in there to be pestered with this stuff. Nor do I care to drop dead of a heart attack or stroke anytime soon…

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.

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!

Singed and Frozen

In the “froze” department, it’s supposed to drop down to 33 degrees here this week. For the Valley of the We-Do-Mean Sun, that is very cold. Many of the ornamental plants would be damaged by that chill even if they were used to it…which they are not. We haven’t seen freezing or even near-freezing temperatures here in years.

Light and even hard frosts used to be pretty commonplace — at least a few crisp nights every winter. But that has gone away, thanks to the heat island effect and the climate warming that we’re so credibly assured doesn’t exist.

Tonight, though, it’s already freaking cold out there and it’s only 7:30. So it was out to the storage shed, there to unearth the dusty old drop cloths I once used as frost protection. Covered one of the bougainvillea with a couple of those. The other three will just have to get by. One on the west side is pretty well sheltered by the big paloverde, though Luis cut the tree back so drastically this spring that it may not provide much cover. The other one is more sandwiched between the back wall, a garage wall, the eaves, and a bunch of plants…it’s usually not harmed much. The one on the east side will freeze back, and there’s not much I can do about that. Even when I’ve covered it in the past, it’s managed to shrivel up.

Bougs, however, are resilient. In fact, they may even like freezing almost to the ground. The following spring they come back, especially if you trim off the dead stuff.

Things on the back porch that are really house plants in this climate…uhmmm….not so good. I did find a shop light and managed to clip it to a wooden chair next to the ficus on the back porch (Unless I remember to turn off the irrigation as dawn cracks, water will come on tomorrow morning and that will create a pool around the ficus’s pot. The woodwork should keep the electric light out of the water…unless it rains…). With the fiberglass panels off the top of the pergola out there, the back porch gets a lot colder than it did. So stuff that did not have to be covered in the past now…does. The ficus, though, grew ecstatically when it was moved and it was freed from the fiberglass roof. It’s now so huge there’s no way I can wrap it effectively with old sheets and curtains.

In the “singed” (as in hot) department: I inflicted a second-degree burn on a wrist a couple days ago, in a moment of stupidity. Oh well. Naturally, this was right before Christmas, when you can’t get in to see anyone for love nor money. A nurse at the Mayo, having quizzed me on the key issues, decided it was relatively minor and advised me to apply antibiotic cream (not ointment) and bandage it.

Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus Public Health Image Library (PHIL)

By this morning, the burn was beginning to heal, but now I had a crop of hives all over my hand and wrist. I figured — damn! — I must have developed an allergy to the stuff they make bandage stickum with. The Walgreen’s generic variety of these things was $2 cheaper than the Bandaid version — for a generous serving of seven bandages! So I’d bought the cheapo version. Maybe that wasn’t the best idea.

Or….hmmmm….  While this was going on, a fine (and very painful) boil sprang up on my face, next to the nose. I’ve had these before — they hurt, they look like hell, and then they go away. And I’ve had them on my hands and arms. But…so…what if these hive things are not hives but actually are some kind of infection along the same lines of said carbuncles? They don’t exactly hurt…they itch, suggesting hives. But I’ve never had an allergic reaction to bandage stuff or latex in my entire lengthy life. What if…what if…what if this is actually an infection, as usual on the eve of a major holiday, conveniently running up against a weekend…

So I call the new dermatologist. To my astonishment, they get me in to see a nurse practitioner TODAY!

She opines that the pimply bumps are probably hives. But then she notices the chronic irritation around my nose (where, interestingly, the giant zit/boil/whateverthefuckitis is now half-healed. She asked if I’ve ever had that treated. I say I’ve tried but no one has ever been able to do anything about it. No one seems to care that the outside of my nose itches all the time and the inside hurts all the time…I imagine everyone’s nose itches all the time.

She says she’d like to take some samples for lab tests. Why? Because she thinks it’s a staph infection, and she thinks it’s very possible the rash on the hand is the same thing: a staph infection. There’s an outside chance it’s a MRSA staphylococcus (a type of antibiotic-resistant bug). She writes a prescription for an ointment and says she’ll let me know the results. If she’s right, the gunk she’s prescribed will clear it up.

Well. That would be some kind of miracle. Over the years I’ve had the inside of my nose cauterized (now THAT hurt! for a good long time…and it didn’t work). I’ve tried gunk recommended by doctors (didn’t work). Have experimented with gunk of my own discovery (didn’t work). Have tried antihistamines (didn’t work).

As of this evening, I’d say at least a couple of the spots very definitely look like boils. Just what I need right next to a burn injury: a fulminating staph infection.

What have I done to offend the God of Israel?
Tell me God is not on Donald Trump’s side….

Report from the Hubs of Hades

Five in the morning. It’s 90 degrees on the back porch. Windy. The sun is trying, unsuccessfully, to dawn through muddy yellow-orange haze. Off in the distance: dull thunder. Let the dogs out to do their thing. Decide against the usual a.m. doggy-walk.

Discover I’ve gained almost two pounds since the day before yesterday. Xergis is fattening?????? WTF.

The human and the dogs go back to bed. Actually, the human takes the laptop to the bed, perches there, and fiddles with social media. Dogs go back to sleep.

Cassie starts to hork.

Lift her off the bed before she succeeds in upchucking. Thank God for small mercies.

Clean up the mess. Let Cassie back out. It’s starting to sprinkle. Sort of. Hard to tell what it’s doing: it’s so hot, and the light wind is rustling the leaves, so the sound could be that rather than rain. If it is raining, it’s evaporating before it hits the ground. Cassie goes back in. Decide she’s probably done barfing. Lift her back on the bed. Climb back on behind her. Dogs conker out.

Storm continues to move in. Thunder surrounds us, rumbling in from all directions. Still have power, though. And 70% battery power remains on the Macbook — meaning the thing will run about another 30 minutes.

The pool will be a mess to clean up, with that much dust hanging in the air. The water is bathtub warm. Even though the mustard algae has almost disappeared, these conditions will invite it back.

Arranged to have the pool resurfaced in October. Earlier, if a miracle happens and the water gets too cool to swim sometime in September. I doubt this will happen: global warming is real, folks…and we’ve had it here for some time now.

Decided against the white PebbleSheen. The guy — a genuine charmer, definitely born about 30 years too late, dammit — brought some samples. We put them in the water, because the stuff changes color as it gets really wet. Chose a kind of medium-light blue with little stones engineered to show. I think it will be very pretty.

They’re going to try to save the tile. But if they can’t — it’s been through two replasterings that we know of, and there is a limit, after all — he left a brochure showing a local pool tile company’s offerings. Now I’m thinking I should just spring for the cost of installing new tile. Mine is pretty out of date…think this pool was installed shortly after the first buyers moved in, and the house was built in 19-and-ought-71. It has that 1970s look to it.

At any rate, the stuff is going to look amazingly pretty.

Looking at it in the water, I was reminded of Lebanon.

When I was a little girl, my father would occasionally take his short leave in Beirut. (Aramco gave employees two “leaves”: a two-week short leave midway through a two-year contract, and a three-month long leave between contracts. Sometimes we would go to Beirut; sometimes to Bahrain.)

Lebanon had been largely dominated by the French, following the demise of the Ottoman Empire. Before the civil war (followed, a few years later, by attacks from the Israelis)  reduced the city to rubble, Beirut hosted rows of beautiful, French-operated hotels that served up luxury accommodations and French food on the shore of the Mediterranean. It was a gorgeous place.

So we stayed in this hotel on the most amazing beach. It wasn’t sand, like the hot white sand where we lived, on the Persian Gulf. It was tiny, colorful, surf-polished pebbles. Each little stone was maybe an eighth of an inch in diameter and  they came in every color you can imagine. When I first saw them, I thought they were gemstones. A whole beach covered with jewelry!

When they were wet, they did look like highly polished gemstones. Let them dry out: not so much. But underwater, they were a spectacular thing to see.

Well, this PebbleSheen stuff is like that. Its little stones are about the size of the beach gemstones of Beirut. And underwater, they shine like they were polished.

So I’m pretty excited about doing this project. I think it’s going to make the backyard look really gorgeous.

The cat’s claw, which was suffering from the near demise of the irrigation system along the back wall, is reviving in response to being watered from the top with drip hosing. That stuff won’t last long — if you ever want soaker hose, do not buy the Miracle-Gro brand, which is true junk. But for the nonce, the scheme is working well. The idea of hooking the double hose bib on that back faucet was definitely one of those why didn’t i think of it before??? things. Now instead of having to climb under the shrubbery to hook up the soakers to the hose, all that’s needed is a flip of a switch and a turn of a faucet handle. It’s starting to blossom and will soon be covered with bright yellow trumpet flowers.

Ugh. I cannot stand to read the news these days. When is that orange-haired buffoon going to resign or be impeached?

Dollars to donuts, he won’t make it to the end of this term. But that may not be a good thing. Because then we will get Pence, who is an effective politician, and who hides his viciousness under a smoothly polished veneer of pious respectability. Frankly, a “Christian” who wouldn’t recognize Christ if the Spirit Himself came up and bit him on the tuchus may be worse than a clown whose corruption is obvious.

This country is in deep, deep trouble. As in End-Times trouble, at least for our democratic republic. Hellish hot rain, I suppose, is to be expected.

Update: Rainshowers barrel through to the south. By 8:00 a.m.: 80 degrees on the back porch, under a gentle sprinkle. Arizona is weird.

Sumer is y-cumen…again!

First week of April in Arizona? Summertime!

People who came here from other parts of the country think it’s already awrful hot. It’s not: yesterday the high only reached 91.

To my mind that’s fairly balmy. But I guess if you grew up in more temperate climes, it feels extreme. Oh well. Just wait till they see what it’s like on July 4. 😀

The plants are beside themselves, once again, with plant joy. The citrus has been blossoming for several weeks — tiny baby oranges, limes, and lemons have started to appear.

Just a few days ago, I planted some new chard seeds in a) a pot and b) a perennially sunbaked flowerbed. Speaking of perennial, the existing chard plants have occupied their pot for upwards of three years. Unlike other kinds of leafy vegetables, the stuff doesn’t bolt to seed in the summer (when it does sprout a seed wand, that doesn’t kill the plant), and it can live through a fairly bracing frost.

This winter some kind of tiny bug literally shaved its leaves off to their center spines. I thought the plants were done for. But lo! This spring, they sprouted new leaves.

The bugs went after them again, so I squirted a solution of Dawn all over the plants. Apparently said solution was a little too strong, though: it burned the chard’s leaves. Again, I thought it was done for, so went out and bought a package of chard seeds, figuring to have to start anew..

Nay, verily: the things have put out more new leaves. Meanwhile, the seeds — which I planted about three days ago — are already sprouting.

Would’ve thunk it?

Planted some little chrysanthemum-like things in the pot, having heard that they repel bugs. Right. We shall see about that.

In any event, they’re kind of pretty little plants, and I think they survive in the heat here.

The Mexican primrose — in reality a kind of weed, a plant that Gerardo looks at aghast — is in full, ecstatic bloom. They make a beautiful pink flower on an upright plant. And because they are quite weedish, they spread like crazy and you cannot kill them.

Lookit these orange things that sprouted from an ancient bulb. Don’t remember what they were called — if I ever knew. But aren’t they pretty?

The lantana, which began to struggle last fall and appeared to be about to wither and die, made it through the winter (to my surprise). It probably needs to be transplanted into a larger pot — lantana is a vigorous spreading critter, and I imagine it must have some space demands. Some varieties of the stuff will actually grow into a hedge in these parts.

Welp, I’d better get off my duff pretty quick. I signed up to go to a writer’s workshop here in town this afternoon. They meet on Sunday afternoons, which normally would be highly inconvenient for me (if not altogether unworkable), because most Sundays choir doesn’t unwind until after noon. Getting downtown through the wacksh!t traffic and fighting to find a parking place by 2 p.m.: not so good. But today we get a little “spring break” after the hectic doings of Holy Week: no church.

Because they meet in a fancy coffee house, you pretty much have to buy something — and we’re told a cup of plain iced coffee (hold the cream, hold the sugar, hold the fake flavoring) will put you back four bucks. Going there once a week is, shall we say, aversive to the frugalist. So…they’ll have to be pretty damn good for me to want to do this often.

The Bum Express goes right in front of the place, which would be grand if I had a friend up here who wanted to attend their meetings. But you couldn’t get me to stand around waiting for a train at the corner of Conduit of Blight and Gangbanger’s Way alone. Not on a bet. I wouldn’t like it even with another person along. But there’s no way I’d ride that thing by myself: not through our garden corner of the city.

This plan to find a writer’s group in town was occasioned by yesterday’s fiasco. The bunch I happen to favor meets in Avondale — it really is great group, the people in it very nice and smart and interesting and fun to know. But Avondale is halfway to Yuma from here.

It is an hour’s drive, door-to-door, from my house to the Avondale Civic Center, where they meet.

Yesterday the drive was enhanced by my realization, just as I turned out of the ‘Hood onto Gangbanger’s Way, that godDAMNit, I’d forgotten my credit cards & ID.

Soooo…had to turn back into the neighborhood, whereupon forthwith I got behind some poor soul who did not know where she was going and apparently had no GPS. She puttered along, blocking the road while peering back and forth and looking pretty puzzled. At one point she stopped at a tiny intersection and stood there, while she cogitated which way to turn.

All the while making me later and later and later….

Flew out of the ‘Hood, having discovered that Gangbanger’s Way is blocked up for pending goddamn lightrail construction, and headed across town on Main Drag South. This moved fairly smoothly, thank God, and I pulled up to the Avondale Library at exactly noon.

This, you understand, is actually “late,” because the guy who runs this group always starts precisely on the minute, and he expects everyone to be ready to go.

Fly to the door and find it…CLOSED.

The air conditioning has gone out and the flatland touristers who live in those far-flung HOA-ridden suburbs think 91 degrees is too hot to hold a library open.

God help us.

We’re told the meeting is moved to some branch library on the far, far southwest side.

I look at that and think…nope. Not going exploring out here. An hour of driving to get here is quite enough. Besides. I’m hungry.

So I headed home, disgusted because I did want to hear my friend’s presentation.

If you want to live in lovely Phoenix, you need to develop an appreciation for long, frustrating drives. 😀