Coffee heat rising

Dispatch from “Prison”

This, my friends, is The Life.

Yes, I’m afraid so… All my Facebook friends are whinging mightily on and on about being cooped up at home, poor souls — well, except for one Fortunate Soul who happens to live on some acres of spectacularly gorgeous country. But the city mice? squeak squeak squeak squeak!


Welp, I’m also a city mouse. But one with some weird traits that suit her well for Covid Quarantine.

At heart, I’m a recluse. Am now, always have been. Well, no: I might not have been in the first grade…but six years of unrelenting grade-school bullying and ostracism left me distrusting people and most comfortable with my own company. The more people I get to know, the more I like my dog…

You think that’s a joke? Not. So. Much.

So the fact is, an ordinary day around the Funny Farm is not so different from a day of Self-Isolation.

I live in a beautiful house with a beautiful yard and a handsome pool (already almost warm enough to swim in!). My job is something I’ve been doing 100% from home since 2000-and-aught 9. I’m good at it and I like it. And you know…there’s always something to do around a house that sits on a quarter-acre lot. The weather is spectacularly gorgeous: in a few minutes I’m going outside to dine on the patio. And there are moments — quite a few of them — when I suspect the highest and best use of one’s personal time is loafing.

Dog and I made a one-mile circuit of the park this morning. When we left at dawn, I hoped we would have some dog-free, human-free peace. Who gets out of the sack on a weekday when they don’t HAVE to go to work?


First cross-street, through the gloaming along comes a couple with a yappy little dog, It flies into a frenzy when it sees Ruby and tries to attack her. Luckily these two are smart enough to have their pet on a leash. It yaps and lunges savagely, but we get away unscathed.

We continue toward Lower Richistan. On the other side of the street, along comes a woman with a large white dog. She thinks she has it under control, no doubt…but not so much. It lunges at Ruby and tries to charge us, dragging the young woman off the sidewalk and into the road.

We get by this obstacle, and from there find the way un-doglested. There is NO one in the park — I imagine this is because of the covid scare. We manage to walk along the west sidewalk all the way to the south side, with no pestering or even threat of pestering. Cruise through the neighborhood to the south of the park. Walk north in the general direction of the Funny Farm.

But no. Here’s a moron with a big dog off the leash.

They’re a distance from us, so we forge on.

Around the corner, and here comes some guy in a car with two huge mutts in the back seat. He parks his car, flings open the door, and lets them charge into the park.

We walk across the street to avoid that catastrophe waiting to happen, with some success. I make a mental note: STAY COMPLETELY AWAY from the park (that you pay for with your taxes), no matter what time of day it is!!!!!


And dinner, partaken of in mid-afternoon, because I ate so much for breakfast that I’m not hungry till then, is fairly decent: grilled steak, roasted potatoes, grilled asparagus, a fine salad with fresh Meyer lemon and olive oil dressing, a passing decent cheap red wine, and a dose of Talenti ice cream.

Laundered clothes: usually I let a vast load pile up before diddling away time with that task. but with the current scare under way, I’m tossing stuff in the wash every couple of days.

The houses in this neighborhood have a peculiarity that, when I first bought here, I regarded as very tacky: all but one of the models have the washer/dryer hookup in the garage.

Of course! Everyone wants to spend time in 110-degree summer heat or 40-degree winter chill laboring over the laundry, right?

Well, at the time I bought into the ‘Hood — the height of the Savings & Loan Fiasco — I needed a place to live, and as a beggar couldn’t be a chooser. As it has developed, though, this trait has had a number of benefits. Obviously, it keeps the noise and mess out of the living area. Also, a couple of times when a washer has overflowed, it has saved me from having to clean up a gawdawful mess from the inside floors. And what is now to the point: After an outing to some germy store, I can shut the door behind me as I drive in, hop out of the car, and immediately strip off my clothes and throw them in the washer. A sink with a bar of soap is right there for the obligatory hand-scrubbing.

Discovered a way to build bird-proof “cages” to protect the vegetables I want to plant from the pet wild birds that have moved in to take advantage of the bird feeding stations. Planted a couple of heads of lettuce outside, and the birds leveled them to the ground. They also shredded a beautiful little succulent that I bought a few weeks ago and delayed planting outside till the weather was better. Managed to keep them out of the chard seedlings by draping nylon bridal-veil mesh over a stick, but that won’t last once the plants get a little bigger.

Next: to make a bunch of face masks out of a pair of old Laura Ashley pillowcases I found in the linen closet. These are supposed to be doable in 10 minutes. We shall see…they look pretty easy. Want to make some for myself, m’jiito, and the neighbors.

Then, once it’s good and dark, it’s off for the second one-mile walk with the hound. The plan is to try to get two miles of walking a day, by going out in the morning and the evening for one-mile junkets.

Fewer people are out with their dogs after dark, though last night I encountered three of them. One had a crazed yapper. The other, a couple, had a large retriever-like thing that was well behaved enough, and a big white pit-bull mix that…well, these stupid people had the mellow retriever attached to the large male human, and the pit-pull attached to the willowy female. The pit-bull launched into full attack mode when it saw Ruby. We were on the other side of the street. The damn dog dragged the woman into the street and pulled her down the road, trying to get at me and my 23-pound pooch.

She managed to regain her footing and haul the dog to a stop, but it looked pretty iffy there for a few seconds.

See what I mean about people? You just can’t fix stupid, no matter how hard you try.

Comedy of Errors…That Ends Well

What a wacky day! Bill Shakespeare himself couldn’t have made this one up.

So my friends VickyC and KJG made plans to meet at KJG’s new digs in Payson, on the 9th. This entails a junket up the side of the Mogollon Rim, about a 90-minute drive.

But first, I had to find some place to farm out the dog: My son’s house.

M’hijito was pressed into duty.

From his house I would have to make my way through gawdawful rush-hour traffic, made even more nightmarish by the TWO (not one) no-left-turn-during-rush-hour roads between my house and VickyC’s house. Getting there would require some driverly gymnastics on the master level. Meanwhile my back still hurts like hell.

So I arrive at his house at the duly appointed time, a little after 8 a.m. Jangle the doorbell.

He, given a fair amount of seniority on the job, is allowed to work at home to some degree. At a little after 8 a.m., he’s on the phone to a customer and is mightily annoyed at being interrupted.

Says he: It’s tomorrow, not today! The 9th is tomorrow.

WTF? Well, I’m sure the Big Day is Friday, because Vicky C, also gifted with a fair amount of seniority, often gets Fridays off. But now am confused.

Leave the dog with him, dart back to the car, and set out to circumnavigate the gawdawful no-left-turn lanes. This entails, in classic Phoenix driving fashion, traveling west in order to go east. I have to get over to 15th Avenue, cruise down to Indian School, fight my way across Central Avenue and the fucking train tracks, then veer south on 3rd Street, bat down to Palm Lane, cross 7th Street on that neighborhood lane (which has a light on 7th), and if I’ve lived that long make my way over a couple more neighborhood streets to VickyC’s.

This would be enough fun without the usual array of moron drivers.

But yea, verily: today I encounter the Emperor of Morons.

Wouldntcha know?

Southbound on 15th — a two-lane road, one southbound, one northbound, with a woozly little left-turn lane running up the middle — I pull up behind a jerk who’s meandering along at 15 mph. It’s a 35 mph zone, which means in Phoenix most people would drive 40 mph. Fifteenth Avenue is a main drag, you understand.

The turkey putters along and putters along. He’s not looking for someplace to turn. No. He’s just holding up the traffic.

Enough. I look around for a cop. Seeing none, I swerve into the left-turn lane and floor it!

This would be why we insist on a SIX-banger.

Sail past the moron and shoot back into the southbound lane, leaving the clown in the dust. Make the light and swing onto Indian School, where I wait through four or five lights to cross Central Avenue, pointlessly and stupidly congested by the lightrail boondoggle.

Finally get through that mess. Dart down 3rd, putter across Palm, and cruise up to VickyC’s house.

Naturally, she’s not there. Evidently my son is right: the Payson day was tomorrow. Which makes sense: the 9th is tomorrow, this being the 8th.

Back to the kid’s house. Pick up the dog, disappointing poor Charley the Golden Retriever, who was thrilled to have company today.

On the way home, stop by the park. By now, summat after 9:00 a.m., the morning is gorgeous! The air is still so crisp some frost lingers on the grass, but the sun is brightly shining. At this late hour, there’s almost no one in the park. We get in a mile’s walk, swinging south through a peninsula of Lower Richistan. Where…of course…

…we encounter another moron.

This is the Ohhhh don’t worry he only wants to play! species of moron.

Yes. Said chucklehead has a hundred-pound Rottweiller straining at a flimsy retractable(!) leash. This critter sees little Ruby and decides she’s at best a nuisance; at worse possibly a threat. The moron does not understand dog language, nary a whisper of it, and so he fails to grasp the meaning of a stiff-legged stance and a tense expression. Yea, verily, the stiff-legged stance with which his little FooFoo is approaching me and my dog, while he — the chucklehead — is being dragged along and cooing, he just wants to play!

I growl, perhaps altogether too unkindly, Right! I’ve heard the wind blow before. Poor little moron chuckles, probably nonplussed, and manages to hold his animal at bay until Ruby and I can get past, giving him and his poochie a wide berth.


And speaking of stump-stupid, when I get back to the house I email VickyC to say I had the day wrong and I guess we’re going up to Payson on the 9th, Saturday, not on our usual get-together day, Friday.

She emails back: I thought it was March 9.

Holy sh!t.

We check in with KJG and learn forthwith that she’s on her way down here for a grandchild’s birthday, and indeed was figuring on March 9.

So. This is senility for ya. On steroids.

Actually, it’s a bit of a blessing. Quite a bit of a blessing.

First, of course, because I did not look forward to having to roll out of the sack early again tomorrow, bang around to feed me and the dog and pack the dog and her dinner in the car and repeat today’s adventures in city driving. So, hallelujah brothers and sisters, I’m excused from a repeat of that task.

But FAR more to the point: Our redoubtable new choir director, by way of orchestrating a special concert for this weekend’s Evensong, has arranged for a high-powered guest conductor to come in and lead us through this event. Out of the blue, he announced that said conductor would be here for a rehearsal tomorrow and, though notice was short, he would love to have as many of us attend as possible.

Well. Of course you may be sure I really wanted to be there, because our guy has brought in some very interesting people and this one promises to be another of them. Thinking I couldn’t possibly get out of the Payson junket, I was pretty disappointed.

But nay verily! Now I can go to this event after all!

So it goes: All’s well that ends well.