Coffee heat rising

Summertime, and the Livin’ Is…Keeriminey!!!

Okay, so…one good thing: Out the door with the dog at 4:30 this morning.

This meant we dodged the wee-hours dog-walker rush — in 112-degree weather, everybody and their little brother, sister, dogs, and puppies swarm the neighborhood streets and the park at 5:00 a.m. Not that I don’t love my fellow humans and their dogs, but…well…yeah: their out-of-control dogs when combined with my out-of-control dog add up to a damned nuisance and an annoying start to the day.

Yesterday I thought maybe I could avoid some of that by walking around the park twice (a one-mile circuit: I’m trying to get in two miles a day), on the far side of the road. The park is overrun at dawn, with people who think our neighborhood park is their private dog park. And no…across the street is not so great. There was some stupid woman in there with TWO big dogs off the leash, chasing around like rockets on high-test fuel after toys she was joyfully tossing for them. And here and there, other dog-lovers letting their “fur-babies” run around loose.

By circumnavigating the park, I hoped to avoid the elderly lady who has invaded my favorite circuit around Upper and Lower Richistan. She’s very sweet and I’d like to get to know her, but not around two nuisancey little dogs — hers and mine. She has an ill-tempered Shi-Tsu that goes batshit when it sees Ruby coming up the street and starts barking and lunging and yanking around. The old gal, who said she was 93 years old, has braces on both legs and limps along with not one but two canes while trying to control her fractious pooch. Of course, when Ruby sees this hound coming at her, she tries to lunge into battle, too, so now I have to struggle and fight to keep her under control. All the while worrying that the sweet old lady is going to be yanked off her feet and thrown on the pavement!


Well, the park route proved not to be such a great idea, because of the chronic law-breakers over there. (It is against the law — city, county, and state — to let your dog run around off the leash.) (And no, I don’t need anymore dog fights: three is enough, for this pooch.) Which is why I started walking through the Richistans in the first place.

Guess I’m not the only one who had that idea. 😀

At any rate, hitting the road a half-hour earlier this morning seems to have resolved the problem. We didn’t encounter the Shi-Tsu lady, nor did we meet many other dog-lovers. We passed the lady with the gigantic Bernese mountain dog — what a critter! He, despite his vastness, is well behaved and quiet. We passed the guy with the lab-like Heinz-57: ditto…a well-behaved and quiet dog. We came up behind the big, hefty-looking gay guy with the two wee little toy poochie things, always an amazing sight. But that was it. A cat tried to follow us home from Lower Richistan, but gave up when it noticed we were drifting into the slums.

It is hotter than the hubs of Hades here. AC is pounding away most of the time. My son is getting $500 power bills in that leaky old house of his. I suggested he bring his dog and camp out here until the end of August, but of course (being sane) he’s having none of that noise.

The pool, which tends to haze, looked clear when I got up this morning but by the time I’d finished breakfast was full of London Fog again, despite my having poured in about 8 or 10 ounces of granulated chlorine as dawn cracked this morning.

Dumped in another pound of chlorine; Cl level is now back up to around 4 ppm, fairly high. This will drop quickly, because chlorine degrades in sunlight.

…some things, you don’t wanna know…

NEVER have I had so much trouble with the chemical balance in this pool — and I’ve been tending it for 16 years. I’ve about come to the conclusion that I need to have the damned Pebblesheen jackhammered off and replaced with old-fashioned white plaster, which IMHO looks better and which is one helluva lot easier to maintain.

You cannot get it clean to save your life. Because the surface is coarse — like fine gravel in asphalt — it eats up a pool brush if you try to brush the walls and floors. Literally pulls the plastic bristles out, which then get into the pool cleaner and break the damn thing. That’s OK, because the surface itself will soon destroy Harvey, and I’ll have to replace him with a new $400 cleaner that has wheels on it — which, we’re told, will break quickly under the strain of running over this stuff. Algae settles into the coarse surface’s billions of pores, so brushing is futile, anyway: the only way to dislodge it is by scouring it down with a hard spray of water from the hose. That’s not practical in the winter:  to clean the walls & steps with water spray, you have to get into the water. Result: haze and algae curtains. So you’re constantly dumping chlorine into the drink, which BLEACHES the damn blue Pebblesheen! So now that expensive new surface is not blue: it’s blotchy yellow (bleached spots) and green (algae) and blue (Pebblesheen waiting to be bleached).

I suspect there’s something about the chemical composition of the surface that bollixes up the water chemistry. I cannot keep the chlorine levels up to save my life. Last night after dark, I poured in a dose of chlorine — the dose I’d administered in the morning having burned out in the 112-degree sunlight. This morning I dumped 3/4 pound of granulated Cl in there — which should have sufficed nicely for the day. That was around 6:30 a.m. By 9 a.m, a test kit  registered ZERO chlorine in there. Actually, that’s with two different brands of test kit. (Yeah: it did occur to me that maybe something was off with HD’s kits, so I bought one from Leslie’s y’day). (No, nothing is wrong with the Home Depot kit…)

Two and a half hours later, and ALL the chlorine is gone????? Huh uh. Something is seriously wrong there

On reflection, it occurs to me that the Swimming Pool Service & Repair guy may have failed to apply chlorine stabilizer when he did the start-up after the pool was refilled. Seems unlikely — this IS their business and they’ve been doing it for years. How could you forget that little detail?

But…it would explain why the chemicals go haywire within a few hours after application.

Whenever I get my act together today, I need to return the wimpy test kit Leslie’s sold me (I found a better one on Amazon, same price, more options, better vials, better chemicals). While I’m there I’ll ask them about the stabilizer issue. It would be good if they had a liquid form (stabilizer is basically cyanuric acid). Some brands of pool chlorine incorporate CYA — particularly chlorine tablets. These were pushing up the acid levels so high that the Leslie’s guy recommended using granulated Cl — which may be the problem right there. If the granulated product doesn’t contain CYA, then…duh! No wonder the water’s clouding up.

I personally prefer the granulated product, which you simply broadcast over the surface occasionally. It seems less nuisancey to me than keeping track of the damned floating pool tab holders and wrestling with alarming potentially explosive tablets every time you turn around. But…hm. But. If the tabs will hold down the haze, that may be the first recourse in a series of strategic steps:

  1. Try the tablets again;
  2. Pounce Leslie’s affable manager and interrogate him about the stabilizer issue;
  3. Possibly buy and add stabilizer…

Which I sure would ‘druther not be hassled with.

Speaking of hassle, on Monday I go in to get yet another goddamn actinic keratosis frozen off my hide.

This has gotten very old, indeed…. A forty-minute drive each way, a fun doctor’s visit, and then a wound to have to care for over the next week or two.

Yesterday, to my horror and amazement, I learned that the current thinking among researchers is that actinic keratoses are not discrete phenomena. Instead, they represent what is called a “field disease,” especially where they crop up repeatedly in the same patch of skin. The theory is that they represent a larger area of diseased tissue. And the suggestion? Treat that area with a chemical, as well as freezing off each flare-up. “The management of multiple AKs is a long-term prospect, with no clear cure,” we’re told. “The best approach is the sequential treatment with a lesion-directed and a field-directed therapy.”

This, quite frankly, does not sound very pleasant. It entails applying a topical gel that singes your skin and can elicit some interesting allergic reactions. Monday I’ll have to take a printout of the article to the doc’s office and ask them if they don’t think they should prescribe one of the recommended drugs. Which, no, I would rather not use. But…besides the hassle and discomfort of these goddamn things (each one itches and hurts at the same time), the fact is they can convert to squamous cell carcinoma in short order. And that stuff will kill you just as dead as malignant melanoma will.

In other precincts: this heat is making me freaking comatose. I have not gotten anything done. Have not posted another section of Fire-Rider. Have not tried to get back to writing Ella. Have not done much house maintenance other than struggle with the pool (many other projects await the human’s attention). Have done little else but eat and sleep. And clean the pool. 😀


Yesterday evening Ruby and I were trotting through lower Richistan, past a house that a young couple with kids is renovating, when the morons’ 80-pound German shepherd roared out of their front yard and attacked my little 25-pound corgi. I tried to grab her and pick her up off the ground, but every time I’d reach for her, the dog came after me. Ruby, meanwhile, being a shepherd dog herself, after a second of terrified shrieking, shifted into full defensive mode and launched herself at the attacker.

Fortunately, the pooch’s humans heard me screaming and came running to call off their dog. But not before the animal had harassed and terrified me and my dog.

One of their cute little kids hollered after me, as I was stalking off down the street having delivered to the parents a volley of…uhm, shall we say “vulgar criticism” at high volume, I’m sowwy!


God, but I am tired of stupid. What IS it about people that they think neither common sense nor the leash laws apply to them and they can do as they please as long as a cop isn’t standing there watching?

Our house. Can you believe this place went on the market recently at over a million dollars?

True: it’s scary living here. I was among the cohort who gentrified Phoenix’s historic (and now spectacularly overpriced)  Encanto district. The ’Hood is effectively the New Encanto. And we have similar problems with transients, crime, and endless assaults on our quality of living by moneyed interests that own the city government. Encanto had (and still does have) many more transients than we see up here. Its Zip code had the highest per-capita drug use rate in the city, and the crazy (sometimes horrifying) incidents occurred so often that our office manager used to ask me, come Monday mornings, what new tale I had to tell. And I usually had one.

What were those tales? Ohhh…the day a burglar murdered an elderly neighbor by chopping her to death with an axe he found in her garage. The night a man tried to bump a lock in the exterior door of a room next to where I was sitting in front of the television (and was within about a second of succeeding when I realized what the noise was, ran to the front door, and screamed FIRE!!!!!!! at the top of my lungs). The cat burglar/rapist on the roof. The guy who watched a neighbor until he knew when her husband was out of town (which was fairly frequently), cased the house until he found the only window that wasn’t wired for a burglar alarm, climbed through it, and spent the night beating and raping her. Little things like that…

Consequently, I’ve had German shepherds all of my adult life. And I’ve had them explicitly as protection dogs. Only now that I no longer have the physical strength to handle a large, high-drive dog have I switched to smaller breeds. Here’s what I’ve observed about the breed, after several decades of handling its representatives.

First lemme tell you somethin’: if you bought yourself a GerShep to protect your kids and their buxom mother, you need to know about German shepherds. And you need to have better sense than to leave your dog out in an unfenced front yard.

The German shepherd has been harmed in many ways by overbreeding to develop “guard” tendencies. The result is often an unstable disposition, which can make for a very dangerous dog. Consequently, if you choose to own a German shepherd, you need to keep it under control at all times, and you need to be aware of its power and its potential to do harm. Yes: my shepherds have chased off home invaders (one poor guy is still running…said to be approaching Siberia about now).

Yes: my shepherds made it possible for me to walk around Encanto Park as a nicely endowed young woman without harassment. But I’ve also had a shepherd that tried to attack my mother-in-law and then me and then a veterinarian – the vet explained that some breeds are prone to a kind of mental illness that causes this behavior, and that once such a dog launches into an attack, it cannot be called off. This, he added, is the direct result of ill-advised breeding practices. If, like me, you’re a German shepherd fan, you should be aware that these conditions exist.

A German shepherd is like a .38. You don’t leave your revolver sitting on the coffee table. Similarly, don’t leave your German shepherd sitting around an unfenced yard and don’t let it off the leash in public. It’s a good thing to protect yourself – but not if you put innocent people’s safety at risk.

Harmless as the new-blown snow…

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.