Coffee heat rising

Down at the HQ

So… Trying to get out of the Funny Farm to drive down to the Religious HQ for today’s volunteer stint at the front desk, whereinat I now reside. Finally…

LORDIE, what a hassle.

To start with, I hurt from top to bottom. Even though the injured paw is slowly healing (I think) it’s very slow. The wrenched knee also hurts. If I get into the bathtub, I can’t get out through any normal contortions and so have to scrabble around to try to get on my feet without slipping and braining myself.

Not that it would make much difference these days.

A normal person would take a shower, not get herself trapped in a tubful of hot water, right? Yes. But first, I’m far from normal. And second — more to the point — soaking in hot water seems to be about all that eases the present tumble-induced aches and pains.

Next, the deadbolt on the door between the kitchen & the garage has jammed. Soonest I could get a locksmith out to the house was tomorrow. Fortunately, there’s a drill-proof Schlage lock on the garage’s side door, and prizing open the garage door itself…well…that’s not very hard, but it would be a little conspicuous for a burglar’s tastes.

But…I tend to mindlessly drive away from the house without closing the garage door. Invariably I think of this as I get about halfway up the block, so feel honor-bound to turn around, go back, and check to be sure it’s shut. This noon when I pull a U-ie…well, naturally, my computer slides off the passenger seat and tumbles onto the floor. Shee-ut!

It doesn’t seem to have broken. Otherwise, obviously, this wouldn’t be getting written.

To add to the kitchen-door issue, the lock on one of the Arcadia doors won’t work. Turns out for some reason the door isn’t closing tightly enough to force the little button that makes it possible for the latch to shift into place. These doors are supposedly warranteed for life, but taking advantage of that will entail digging out the paperwork from files that date back 15 years…won’t THAT be fun? And then hoping the manufacturer is still in business.

To add to the computer issue, the MacBook has developed a slowly worsening quirk: its cursor randomly jumps backward up the file as I’m typing, and since I type very fast even with one paw wounded, it inserts a series of letters into some random place in the file. This, I find extremely annoying.

I also find it’s a known issue. And probably will clinch the requirement that I buy a new computer, which I really do not want to do.

One reason I don’t want to is that I haven’t been paid the $1300 owed by my most recent client. Contact his admin and find it’s because she failed to enter some tiny speck of data into the university’s excruciatingly complicated computer forms.

Soooooo….. Let’s hope this thing survives long enough for that payment to get here, so I can afford to buy another unit and jump through the involved set of hassles that will entail.

Further adding to the fun… Usually the Thursday afternoon front-desk gig is quiet as the tomb. Not so today. The phone has been jangling since I sat down. We’re doing a concert of Handel’s Messiah — people are calling with questions to which I do not now, never have, and probably never will know the answers.

At any rate, this is the kind of day that makes me question the state of my marbles. I can’t even get out the door without a fiasco, and when I finally get here — pushing late — I have no clue what I’m doing.

The front yard looks a lot clearer and tidier with all the brush that Gerardo and crew removed yesterday. But from the street you still can’t get a full view of what’s going on — if anything — inside the courtyard. So, what with that guy obviously casing the house the other day, I’m  not at all comfortable at leaving the place. Ever. Especially not for several hours at a time.

So we’re brought back to the question that arises these days every time I get in my car and drive away from the Funny Farm:

Why am I staying here?


Main reason? I have no idea where else to go.

Not that I can afford, anyway. If you don’t want to live in  a suburb of eave-to-eave styrofoam-and-stucco ticky-tacky, there’s really not much you can afford in a safer area. Not around here, anyway. All of North Central — where I’ve lived all my adult life — is now outside my price range. Well, except for the strip that borders Conduit of Blight Boulevard, all of which suffers the same issue as we in the ‘Hood confront: our neighbor to the west is one huge meth slum. That’s why the ’Hood is relatively affordable.

The alternatives are Fountain Hills — an hour’s drive from everything I do, and also largely ticky-tacky construction, albeit on larger lots — and Sun City –also almost an hour away from my life, and a ghetto for old folks, to boot.

Prescott? Wickenburg? Oro Valley? I’d have to start my life completely over in any of those places. And y’know what? I’m just too damn lazy to feel like building whole new networks of friends, whole new networks of retailers, whole new networks of doctors and dentists and optometrists and hair stylists and car mechanics and cleaning ladies and yard dudes and locksmiths and AC repairmen and plumbers and bankers and veterinarians and accountants and computer gurus and…augh!! It’s more than one can contemplate.

Ugh…some woman just hung up on me because I have no idea where to buy size 3x men’s pajamas. WTF????

And…ohboy, two seconds later the wooden gadget someone made to hold the door open got busted. Now the door is permanently latched shut.

BUT…the amazingly resourceful Nanette forthwith walked in through the door, retrieved the busted device, and fixed it.

A parishioner wants to know at which the Christmas Eve service do we sing “Silent Night” in the dark. I say it must be the midnight service…because that’s when the choir sings and we always sing…etc. No, says she, it can’t be the midnight mass because they never go to that.

Huh? Well, then, sister, it must be the service you usually go to, no???

An hour to go before I can head home and pour a bourbon & water.


One thing after another…

Man! Has it ever been a busy few days! Where to start?

Dog Busting, Friend Busting, Weekend Busting

My good friends KJG and VickyC have been machinating a weekend junket to Payson, whither KJG and Mr. KJG recently moved. We were hugely looking forward to seeing the G’s in their new home, a Very Big Deal indeed.

Between the time I left  yesterday morning to drop Ruby the Corgi off at my son’s house for the day and the time I arrived at VickyC’s house in a historic downtown neighborhood, KJG had called, reached VickyC, and said the plans were off.

Mr. KJG had taken their beautiful and endlessly beloved pet greyhound for her morning walk, and while he was out a neighbor’s loose mutt attacked them. The greyhound was alarmingly injured. What the status is now, I do not know — no reply was forthcoming from my emailed inquiry, so in true Drama Queen mode, I assume the dog is dead or in extremis.

This greyhound is Mr. KJG’s baby. They both really love that hound. Should it be permanently hurt or dead, then that is a major tragedy in their household.*

The thing is, rural veterinaries are often not equipped to cope with this kind of emergency. When Charley had his self-induced heatstroke while on the road with M’hijito, the vet up in Nowhereseville said that if the dog was to survive at all — which he did not think would happen — he would have to be transported to a 24-hour emergency vet in the Valley. Additionally, greyhounds are not like normal dogs. One of their eccentricities is that they cannot tolerate the anaesthesia normally used in veterinary practices — they require a special anaesthetic, and they require a vet who a) knows this (good luck with that!), b) who has the stuff in stock, and c) knows how to use it. So you pretty much have to have already established a relationship with a vet before anything happens to such a dog. They’ve been there plenty of time to have done so, but I’m sure this esisode was not a grand way to launch the weekend.

Meanwhile, a new bishop for the diocese was consecrated. It was quite a chivaree and one that I wanted to attend and to sing at. However, my friends and I had made these plans many weeks ago, and trying to get three busy schedules to coordinate is quite a challenge. So I didn’t feel I could duck out of it…

*Some hours later: We’re told the dog is patched up and will be OK. Good news!

Planning for Good Works

VickyC and I punted by going to breakfast, then briefly browsing some antique stores, and plotting some schemes for volunteer work. She is a graduate of the Valley Leadership program that trains young executives, and so has all sorts of contacts and projects.

After many years at her current job with a regional water supplier, she recently applied for a position with a national nonprofit for which my ex- once served as state president and then as a national board member. Naturally, I was very interested in this development and suggested that I’d like to volunteer, assuming all his old cronies have now moved on. That appears to be the case, and so if she gets the job maybe I can sign back on.

Meanwhile, her employer encourages people to participate in community work, and so she already is much engaged. Among of her interests are the de-privatization of our prison system and initiatives to rehabilitate offenders back into society so they do not end up going back to jail. One of the groups she works with is looking for volunteers, so she may introduce me to those folks.

Sometimes I think it’s time to quit the editorial business — just shut it down, rather than continue wrestling with getting paid and ponying up cash to have the taxes done. WonderAccountant has already suggested we de-incorporate it, and we’re about to send in the paperwork to convert it to an LLC. This would much reduce the costs of tax preparation, and also much de-complicate the work she does for me and the bidness. But…given what I’m paid, I do wonder why I even bother: wouldn’t it be better to do something that helps folks for free?


All the edible contents of the pantry have been sitting in the freezer for a good three days now. That’s twice as long as is supposedly needed to kill off any infant moths and their eggs. Yay!

That cabinet is now mightily cleaned and very tidy. So today I retrieved the food and packed it back onto the shelves. Very nifty.

I’m almost certain that this infestation came from the dog kibble, an elegant variety of which I buy at an expensive gourmet grocery store. This stuff, I use as doggy treats and to spike the corgi’s custom-made chow. Although I threw out a bunch of aging products, the kibble was really the only thing that clearly was occupied.

WhatEVER. All the pantry goods are now secured inside jars with tight lids, even the pasta. That should discourage any further depredations. And it sure makes the shelves nice and neat.


Mattress Gambit

So I finally gave up and went to a MattressFirm outlet, the one next door to the Whole Foods at Town and Country. The general over-pricedness of this shopping center — well, with the exception of the Trader Joe’s, the upscale thrift store, and the Nordstrom’s Rack — does not inspire confidence. However, I did find a very comfortable inner-spring mattress, exactly what I had in mind, for well under a thousand dollars.

Can you imagine: $1,300 to $1,500+ for mattress from Penney’s????? Next door to the Costco in one of the grungiest shopping centers in the city???? A store that employs, far as anyone can tell, exactly ZERO sales people? Give. Me. A. Break.

This prize is supposed to be delivered tomorrow, and they will cart off the huge, unmoveable clunker that’s been occupying space in the bedroom for the past fifteen years.

Briefly, I considered having the delivery guys just tote it into the former TV room, which just now serves no purpose. A bed in there would turn it into a guest bedroom, eh?

But really, the room is too small for a queen-sized mattress. I’d have to buy some sort of platform for the thing or else just set it on the floor, neither of which I wanna do. Other furniture in there would have to go. And given that no one ever stays here overnight, the whole idea looked like a great deal more trouble than it’s worth. Really, it would make more sense to get an Ikea bed platform and toss a twin-size Tuft and Needle pad on it. Or a futon. So…

Vacuum Cleaner Fiasco

Now that did turn into a fiasco, when in a fit of frustration and exhaustion I abandoned the supposedly unfixable Shark vacuum at the 35th Avenue Sew’n’Vac, an outfit that in the past has cheerfully repaired the things.

Apparently staff there outright lied when they said parts could not be purchased (oddly, they’re readily available on Amazon) and the machines cannot be opened to work on them (oddly, Amazon customers report all kinds of repairs having been done on their older models).

By leaving the machine there and asking them to throw it out so I didn’t have to tote it home and figure out how to dispose of it, I essentially let the store steal it. And…they have in the past sold second-hand vacuums.

But…I have another old Shark vacuum, which runs fine but is just old and tired. I use it to vacuum the car and pick up the occasional mess of broken glass. After I realized that yea, verily, parts are easy to order and others report no problem with repair jobs, I called another vacuum repair store. The guy who answered said they could clean and refurbish that vacuum.

Since I truly hate the new Shark I bought at Costco the other day — it’s swiveling suction head threatens to yank your shoulder out of joint — I’m thinking I’ll have this other repair guy fix up the old one and then return the $150 number to Costco. So that will put a bundle of cash back in my checking account and relieve me, temporarily, of yet another source of annoyance.

Pool Fiasco

The newly (expensively) refurbished pool pump doesn’t seem to be working. Just now I’m too tired to be mad as a cat about that…but I surely should be. Yesterday I spent half the afternoon cleaning up the algae infestation that resulted from sending the damn pump to the shop for a week or ten days. WHAT a mess, and what a project!

The vacuum just simply does not run when plugged into the (expensive) new inlet on the side of the pool: hangs up on the accursed new hair-resistant drain covers and stops dead. And it is sucking air, causing the pump to cavitate.


So it’s now plugged into the strainer basket inlet. Again. This required reattaching three lengths of plastic hose. Still sucks air, still cavitates but now it runs like a bustard.

I’m thinking it’s possible one or more lengths of that hose is leaking. A couple of them are pretty old. But that stuff is ridiculously expensive . I really, truly do NOT want to go out and buy half a dozen lengths of it. They do have pool vacuum hoses at Amazon, but reviewers seem to hate them, and they come in 30- or 40-foot lengths. The shorter lengths — four or five feet — are preferable because you don’t have to replace the entire pricey length if one crack shows up, and because they’re easier to store.

At any rate, I’m getting very, very tired of paying Swimming Pool Service & Repair to get the damn job done right. They soak me for a service call every time they come over here to do something that should have been done as part of the refurbishing job.

The newly purchased hose bonnet gadget — used for picking up large debris that could damage Harvey the Hayward Pool cleaner — proved to be exceptionally annoying. The maker has added a new blandishment: lengths of nylon brush around the circumference. This stuff a) does not play well with the coarse new Pebble-sheen surface and b) pushes the debris out of the way instead of letting the device suck it up into the bonnet.

This afternoon I realized I could take a flat-head screwdriver to the frame and prize the stupid brushes out. By then Harvey had sucked up most of the BBs that had blown out of the damned palm trees into the pool, so haven’t yet tried to see how this “improvement” works. But, dammit, I see that I can get the old-fashioned no-cutesy-brush version from Amazon, for a lot less than I paid at Leslie’s. So I may try to snap those things back in, return it to Leslie’s, and order one that’s not so extortionately priced.

Doggy-Walk Fail

On the way back into the ’Hood from church, what should come galloping across the road but the BIGGEST, HEALTHIEST, HUSKIEST coyote I’ve ever seen in my life. He was gorgeous — in great health, full coat, and at least as big as a German shepherd. And on a dead run, presumably streaking away from something that spooked him.

One of the little girls on the corner of the road that leads toward La Maya and La Bethulia’s house started to putter after him on her bicycle. No grown-up being in evidence, I pulled a U-ie and cruised down the street after him. Didn’t see him in the alley, though that’s the most likely place for a coyote to take shelter. Stopped by La M’s neighbor’s house, where the family was puttering in the front yard, and told them to keep an eye out for the coyote-hunting kidlet. They hadn’t seen him come by, so he presumably shot up the alleyway.

At any rate, it’s now after dark. Ruby the Corgi has not had her daily doggy-walk, but with that big fella in the offing, I think I’d just as soon not take her out in prime coyote-prowling hours. So…she’ll be unhappy with me all evening.

So. Yeah:

One damfool thing after another!

How volunteering can help your business

Little knowing what I was getting into, a while back I agreed to help with the program for the Arizona Bach Festival, a new musical series featuring internationally known classical musicians and the Grammy Award-winning Phoenix Chorale. When I said “help,” I was thinking “editorial help.” But what really happened was that I got volunteered to sell ad space for the program.

Well, of course, I don’t know the first thing about ad sales. But we just made our first sale! w00t!

In theory I’ve been offered a small commission on each sale, but in fact I plan to donate the proceeds back to the festival or to All Saints, whose music director is one of the moving forces behind this event.

Even though I’m just getting started, it’s already easy to see that I’m getting a great deal more benefit from this experience than a 15 to 25 percent commission. In fact, it’s forcing me to go out into the community and meet people—businessmen and women who can use my services and are likely to actually pay for them. How will this help The Copyeditor’s Desk, Inc.?

Let me count the ways:

Renew and re-establish old business relationships
Join or rejoin trade groups I’d allowed to languish
Take time to talk with people whose friendships I’ve neglected
Remind old friends that I’m still looking for business
Find new opportunities to market my business as well as theirs

Just about any time you get out of your cave, it’s good for business. A couple of months ago, I volunteered to edit the Arizona Book Publishers Association newsletter. When the group announced on its website that I’ll be taking over with this issue, right off the bat someone e-mailed me asking if we would do editorial work for an offshore fulfillment house.

Business—that is, making money—is about getting to know people. So is volunteering. The two work hand-in-hand.


Lookit this! Among a long and wonderful list of plans to improve life in 2009, Master Your Card publishes a link to this amazing site, a “job bank” for people who want to volunteer.

You enter your location and your skill or your interest, and presto! Up comes a list of volunteer opportunities that look custom-tailored for you.

This is a fantastic tool. One of the reasons I don’t volunteer as much as I would like is that I have no idea who can use my skills or how to access organizations that I’d like to work with. Too often if you cold-call an outfit that’s not actively looking for volunteers, you get a cold shoulder, because they already have everyone they need or limit their choices to an in-group. Here you can find organizations that are advertising for people to join up.

When I entered “editor” and my city, SIX volunteer opportunities came back, two of them very interesting. Enter “gardening” and a long list of neat possibilities comes up, all over the Valley.

Don’t miss the rest of Master Your Credit Card’s piece…especially the video on how the boob tube works on your brain.