Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Freedom Milestone

I've been slave to the calendar. Those squares with lots of room to write down reminders have been filled with the tyranny of medical appointments. Mostly PT.

Those 8 AM ones cause sleep deprivation. (OK, it's the pain continually waking me, the dog thinking it's play time all night long and determined that bouncing on me will convince me too, that are the primary cause, but I otherwise make it up with a nice post-breakfast nap. Maybe two.) Can't sleep during PT. The 2:30 PM ones cause overheating while the world and the car bake in the sun, especially while I'm banned from getting really wet. The 11 AM ones promote poor eating because it's too easy to hit a fast food joint on the way home because, hey, it's lunchtime.

Yesterday was my last formal PT appointment. Like the first, it's mostly an evaluation of where I am, measured against my "should" status. I went in to that one determined that if they wanted to add more appointments onto my schedule, they damn sure better be persuasive.

I've met my goals, at least the ones that I believe can be met. I've given up on any kind of PT being able to relieve that nerve pinch every time I bend, straighten, or sit. For that matter, they don't do surgery for that either, with the reasoning that any further intrusions will only create more problems. Time, that's what they say. Maybe in the next year or so, when the swelling should finally be gone, whatever is pushing on that nerve will have shrunk out of its way. At any rate, no reason to continue PT.

Despite that nerve, I can straighten that knee to fully straight, or zero degrees in their jargon. I don't do wonderfully in pulling the leg back into a tight bend on my own. Those muscles have done a bang up job of keeping that knee locked straight so I could walk for ten years or so, so I have to work on them. But with a little warm up and the assistance of either my elastic strap or my therapist's hand, it can be bent to 120 degrees. Satisfactory, in other words. For now.

Personally, I find the way they measure the angles to be weird: diametrically opposite the way it works in math. Their zero is a straight line, better known as 180 degrees. And 120  degrees is an acute angle, thirty degrees sharper than a right angle, or better known as 60 degrees. Ultimately it doesn't matter what they call it, as long as they agree with me that my reachable goals have been met.

And they did.

So the calendar is empty now, right?

Wrong. The surgeon has one final evaluation, and the cardiologist needs his 6-month visit. But those aren't until next week.

Monday, June 20, 2016


Following yesterday's post, there were 4 heat/hiking deaths in the state, including a personal trainer hiking with a pair of doctors. Even CPR couldn't save her.

Now maybe I've lived in this state too long, but I have developed a fondness for the Boot Hill epitaphs. My favorite:

Here lies Lester Moore
4 shots from a 44
No Les
No more.

I don't pretend to such elegance, but I have a suggestion for this weekend's idiots... er, victims:

They said it was too hot to hike.
I thought I knew better.
Now I know better.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


Reality check: it's 8:30 PM and cooling down. That means tonight that it's all the way down to 110. Doesn't quite hit you in the face when heading out with the dogs for their two minute do-it-or-forget-it potty break like it does late afternoon when it hit 123. Yes, that's in the shade. And yes, we've checked the thermometer with the broken down temperature readings for our area through the year where we consistently within 2 degrees, either higher or lower, of what somebody else's backyard records. So I trust it.

Cabin fever is setting in. I know I can drive legally now before I need an afternoon percoset and get out when I want to. I just don't want to. Not in this. Mornings are better. Tomorrow the forecast low is 89. That's at 6:00. By 8:00 it's supposed to be 99 already. Small window for activities for the reasonably sane.

Not everybody is, of course. Folks die. They go hiking too far too late with too little water and no sense. No surprises there. It's the same folks who wear the wrong shoes on the mountain, hike alone, again don't take enough water, and manage to make the news in all the wrong ways. It will be tempting tomorrow when we hear of the latest casualties to talk back to the TV set, "Well, duh!"

It's not meant to be self-righteous. Not completely. Four days without AC was plenty miserable to have gained some empathy. But partly, I'll admit.  I do a lot of stupid things. Just not that.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Trumping Trump

The Donald will be visiting The Valley. Tickets are free online, just go to his website and print out your allotment of 2.

Or how about this? Everybody who's anti-Trump, go hit the website, print out your tickets... and stay home! Do not show up, make them hold those empty seats for you. Greet him with an empty stadium.

If you must show up to protest, risking wacko fans seeking televised confrontations, standing out in the heat which will be reaching deadly highs this weekend, go ahead. But do this too. Let the cameras, and The Donald, get your message from all the empty seats as well.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Come Out of Those Caves!

Yesterday I talked about increasing numbers of us crawling back into our caves out of fear of all those scary OTHERS. I assume, of course, that that is a bad idea for all of us. I get that not everybody sees why that is a bad idea.

Let me offer up a word for that practice that, all by itself, should explain better than any long essay why it's a bad idea. Let me also offer up a term for its opposite that should make clear how beneficial our emerging from those caves and mingling with those OTHERS would be for all of us.

The first is "incest."

The second is "hybrid vigor."

'Nuff said?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

No Silver Bullet

I never wanted to write a post like this. I never wanted the ever-repeating reason. There was a time when a mass shooting was a shock, something unheard of, unimaginable. And there was a time when I believed that our country was composed of people - of enough people - who would demand something be done about it and it all would be stopped.

I was very naive.

After all the mass shootings, where increasing numbers and increasing vulnerability of the victims like six-year-olds keep mounting up, still nothing happens. I begin to fear for us. For our country.

It's not fear for myself personally. My fairly quiet lifestyle makes it difficult to imagine myself on the wrong end of an AR15. But I can imagine it in some distant part of my brain.

That's not the part that scares me. What scares me is the immobility in this country, nobody acting to stop it, everybody pointing fingers in different directions of blame. Scared, greedy and narcissistic people refusing to end gun violence with stupid catch phrases like it not being guns but people killing people, everybody's right to arm themselves to the teeth being somehow sacred, and hey, everybody fear fear fear those Others because they are the ones at fault.

Not us. No, never us.

I can't help wondering if the targets of the hate suddenly became the gun manufacturers and pushers, and all the scared coocoos began taking them out in large numbers, if then anything would change. That's not advocacy, just idle speculation when it seems the only action left to us is idle speculation while we watch the latest incidents unfold on the TV.

Sure, it's not an untouched gun that kills people. But how long does that gun stay untouched? Who gets to pick it up, load it, and start pulling the trigger, and why? The answer seems to be everybody. Blame mental illness, and retroactively define any shooter as mentally ill. Blame bad childhoods, bad economics, relationship problems. Blame the angry, the ignorant, the bully, paste the label "terrorist" retroactively on all of them and add it to the growing pile of so-called reasons to further arm ourselves.

Why don't we blame the greedy, who make money by selling the means to wholesale destruction? Why don't we blame the hate mongers and fear mongers who just can't wait to point fingers at everybody else and define them as the enemy so they can increase their ratings? Why don't we blame the politicians who leave their principles, if any, back on the altar of reelection? How about the press who sensationalize the blood and gore without ever digging into root causes, satisfied to watch us all throw up our hands and report on just how high those hands were raised. And hey, if the camera catches a tear... BONUS!

Why don't we blame ourselves for not doing anything to stop it all?

We want the silver bullet answer, the one simple thing that would put an end to all of it. There isn't one, at least not one we as a nation are willing to accept. The only way to end the mass gun violence is to end the guns. Period.



I fear it will never happen.  We are all too busy crawling back into our little caves protecting those like ourselves, fearing and hating anybody different, that reason has fled. It's not them we have to fear.

We have met the enemy, Pogo, and it is us.

Friday, June 10, 2016

NOT Interested

I'm not sure exactly why he rubbed me the wrong way right from the start. Perhaps it was simply because I didn't feel like having to get up out of my chair for a complete stranger. (The walking is fine. The standing up/sitting down still hurts, pinching nerves.)

I caught him out of the corner of my eye, strolling along the front sidewalk, then turning into the driveway. He was reasonably presentable, young, neatly groomed, wearing a generic navy non-uniform uniform. No company logo. No name patch. No company truck visible anywhere either.

The dogs of course went nuts with his first step onto the property. They pretty much ignore passers by when the house is shut up and they don't have dogs with them, as long as they stay on the sidewalk. But he didn't. Plus he was looking hard into the carport on his way up the drive.

I might have been tempted to ignore him except I thought the dog cacophony would wake Steve. Like me, he's still catching up on his lost sleep from days of our too-hot house. In a way, the guy was lucky it wasn't back then, since I wouldn't have answered the door for anybody in what I was (mostly not) wearing just to cope with the heat. But I was decent enough this time.

He started by asking if that was our vehicle in the carport. (Who else's?) Then he pointed up the street and tried to tell me Betty Lou thought we might be interested in what he was selling even though he stressed he wasn't selling anything.

Boy, if that last bit doesn't set you off...! Besides, Betty Lou who? We don't know any and we're pretty sure if one even exists up the street she doesn't know us or what we might be interested in.

I still hadn't unlocked the screen door, but he held his hand out to the door expecting me to shake it.

I left the door locked.

He continued that he noticed from the street the stars in our windshield, offering to fix them for us.

Them? How about one?

"I'm not interested."

I did know they spread, didn't I?

Of course I do. With 2 million miles under my belt and numerous stars and traveling racks, I have some familiarity with the problem. And we do in fact have a crack running part way across the passenger side. It started in January, with a rock impact on the freeway. I know it was January because we had out-of-state company and we were driving out past Tucson to Kartchner. I also know it ran across the windshield immediately because it was the (only) day it was snowing and the defrosters set up a hot/cold temperature variant that provided perfect conditions. Of course, as soon as the snow ended - about 10 road miles worth - the crack stopped spreading. How do I know? I like to run my slightly greasy finger across the ends to mark them in order to measure progress.

I was not, however, feeling like engaging with this guy at the door.

"I'm not interested."

He asked my if I knew it was free to get it fixed? Of course I do, provided one has the insurance rider. I happen to carry it, and some day I will call the insurance company. We'll arrange some reputable company to deal with the crack, not some squirt that some possible Betty Lou may or may not have sent my way, looking completely unequipped to do anything about it.


I quietly shut the door in his face. I still didn't want to wake Steve.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

5:45 PM, 6/8/16

108 degrees. The beginning of humidity increase that will formally be labeled "Monsoon Season" in another week. That's what's outside.

Taking note of the minute, a change has just happened. There is a faint chemical smell invading the house. It's the kind of smell that comes off starting up a brand new machine. We don't seriously mind the smell as it's invading the house on a stream of cool air. In this case, it's from the new air conditioner on the roof. We don't seriously mind the smell as it's invading the house on a stream of cool air. The thermostat has been set and the temperature is slowly dropping from the 97 it rose to inside the house since we closed windows this morning. We plan to bring it down to 81 for a day or so. We need to recover. Then we can decide on a higher summer comfort level.

We will need to add insulation to the attic. We've had at least three times since we moved in where a workman (or more?) has crawled through what's there and we are not optimistic enough to believe there is a useful, uniform level of it left up there.

We will also need to close off one of the air vents to/from the central opening in the house where the old furnace sat and the water heater still sits. Hot air pours down into the hall right next to the thermostat. The one we can close off because there is a second one supplying air to the water heater.

Some of that will wait, some not. We will cool off first before making those decisions. Or doing anything much that requires a literally cooler head. But my first decision doesn't need for me to wait. I'm gonna go take a shower!

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Keepin' Warm

Still day after day of record temps. Only 111 yesterday. Perhaps 107 today. They announce that as though we should be singing hozannas at the good news.

We might. Except...

Bedtime temperatures still hover around 100, only hitting a low of 80 at 6AM. And the AC kicked the bucket yesterday afternoon. Not just getting increasingly glitchy. Dead. Doornail. Kaput.

Send out the salesman.

To be fair, first they sent out the repairman, from a firm recommended by a years-long resident with many years of experience with them. After checking inside and rooftop, he found a list of things. The motor seized up. He took a cell picture of the label and its info, hoping that with all the numbers on it they can come up with a match. The actual nameplate disappeared some years back, apparently, so he can't just call in for whatever brand it is. HOWEVER...

The system is old. For here, extremely so. Other parts are, if not completely defunct, then only partially funct. There is so much rust up there that they can't even tell if the unit is leaking coolant. So the motor would likely not be the end of the attempt to fix it.

On the plus side, the cost of the service call would be taken off further costs, repairs or replacement. And they were fast. But today the salesman cannot come out until somewhere between 3 and 4 this afternoon. And that's no indication of how long to get a new unit in, since I decided not to diddle around with a bunch of half-assed maybe-fixes and still end up with a very old unit on the roof but with some new parts. And then only if they can successfully connect them through all the rust to the existing unit.

Anyway, it was plenty hot last night. We had air circulating, but if you think that's a substitute for cool air circulating, you'd better not try for a career selling AC units. There were a few old-fashioned stop-gap measures employed, including drinking about half the glass of water and pouring the other half over your shirt. It only partially offers relief, as the shirt dries too quickly that way.

Before finally trying to sleep we both went all out in attempted cooling, putting on our PJs and standing under the shower in them, stepping out without toweling off, then letting the fans do their work. That's good for a few hours at a crack, more if you drip generously into your chair or onto your bed so moving around offers up new wet spots to the tender mercies of the fans.

As a bonus, it's dry enough down here that even the wettest upholstery/padding does not stay wet long enough to start to mold or even get a bit funky. I'll let you know if that holds for two nights in a row, by the way.

The good news is the Doc officially is allowing me to go in the shower now. He doesn't allow me in the community pool for another week and a half.

Those will be the remains of my wet footprints down the hall from the shower.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Update: Valley Temps

Remember my saying they keep upping the forecast for the next few days' heat wave? Today's (Sat.) morning news has 116 for Phoenix. However, out in the west valley, it's 117 here in Sun City, and 118 in the neighboring community of ... wait for it .... Surprise!

We've brought the dogs' water dish into the dining room. Can't stand to be even as far out as the lanai while they decide whether or not to scarf up a drink. When they do need to go out, we keep an eagle eye on them so as soon as they finish what they're there for, we call them and all go right back inside.  After all, even at our late bedtime, it's only dropped to 100. They have learned that the rocky bits of the back yard that are just inches out of the shade have heated up enough to hurt their feet. Yesterday Fred backed up into the shade again, lifted his leg in a new hastily chosen spot... and walked through his new puddle on  the way back into the house!

Gee, thanks, guy.

Friday, June 3, 2016

Warning Signs

The news has been trumpeting it for days: temperatures in The Valley are going to be hitting the hundred & teens for several days over this weekend. They keep upping the numbers as they get closer. 113 is now forecast for today.

So far Steve and I have been able to avoid this kind of heat, heading north instead. (My personal record is 107, many years ago in Georgia.) This summer, of course, we opted to stay long enough to get both knees replaced, so we'll get hit with the real deal.

So far the AC has been keeping up with it. In fact there are still times where the brunt of it hitting the living room has gotten too chilly, and we've shut it down for a bit even though the rest of the house is still uncomfortable. We're not in the rest of the house, except briefly: in this weather, no constipation allowed. A brief AC shutdown is economical as well as comfortable. So far, however, concerns that our unit will fail during this are minimal, filed away in the I-hope-it-doesn't-fail-yet file.

Yesterday we found a new concern. The power went out. Twice.

First time was mid afternoon. Temperatures hadn't quite hit 100 but were damn close. I had to step outside into the blast furnace for a while and sit in the shade of the patio where there was a hint of a breeze occasionally to help with cooling. Of course, before that I had to get Steve to help me out of the lift chair. I'd been laying back for a little nap. Head down, feet up, chair... immobile. Good thing my pain levels are down enough that it's not horrible to creep forward one hip at a time to assist in my forward progress. Steve was still invaluable both for balance and to guard against tipping.

Also good that I have APS programmed into my phone to report the outage. In about 45 minutes our power was restored. Suppertime news credited a traffic accident taking out a power pole.

The second outage hit after I went to bed, perhaps around 11 PM. I'm still trying to spend some part of the night lying flat there but am only able to manage maybe 90 minutes before the pain wakes me up to shift back into the lift chair. Some nights I only lie there, pain prohibiting sleep. Things are getting better, since for the last few days I've actually managed some sleep in the bed. I keep trying, not only because I need to change positions regularly. Steve wants his chair back.

I was just drifting off when a noise woke me. Not sure what it was. Steve may have bumped into something in the dark, not having my still-reasonable night vision. It may even have been the absence of noise, as there were suddenly no fans rotating.

Steve located his cell phone/flashlight, and brought my cell to me so I could call APS again. This time the recorded answering message informed us there were power outages covering three counties, and all crews were out working on the problem. This time there was no offer to mechanically record our address and phone number for them to make sure it got fixed and verify with a callback, like the afternoon call.

OK, fine, we were stuck with what was. At least the sun had been down long enough that the outside temperature was close to 90. We opened all the windows to assist in any possible air movement / exchange / cooling. By about 2:15 power returned. We left fans moving, windows open - just in case - and turned off the AC for the night. I gratefully climbed back into the lift chair to get some real sleep.

Today will be brutal. Yes, we have to go out. There's a late morning PT appointment (let's hope the elevators work because it's on the 2nd floor, still a major problem), followed by almost enough time to grab lunch on our way to the surgeon's office (also 2nd floor) for my 1st post-surgery checkup and staples removal, plus a new scrip for Perc to get me through the next month. Then there's the trip to WalMart to fill that and another Rx and pick up some other necessities including dog chow. No, we can't put shopping off a few days for it to cool down. If we simply wait till late enough in the evening to get more reasonable temperatures the pharmacy will be closed.

Between each stop, we get to climb back into a car that will have been in full sun because there's no shade at any of those stops. So far nobody's installed those shade panels over parking spaces in those locations to also support solar panels. So far the car's AC has been working perfectly. It should be close to habitable by the time we hit the next stop. At least we hope so. This will be a real test for it.

Of course, filed away in the back of our minds is the question of how long the car AC will hold up as well. Maybe not so far back now, after yesterday's warning signs. I know we'll be fully alert to whether the house AC is working as soon as we walk in. I'm already debating with myself whether to ignore the proscription against full showers or swimming, should the failures keep happening.