Archive for August, 2012

The Phantom Boyfriend Returns

August 29, 2012

I’ve mentioned before my phantom boyfriend, Joe the Railroad Man. We try and call or text every so often but rarely see each other. We do have a strong bond, though I don’t spend time analyzing it. I haven’t dated anyone else, or even looked on Plenty of Fish. He just works a lot with an erratic and busy schedule.

He called on Sunday and asked if I wanted to go to Lake Powell and spend the night on his boat. Lake Powell is about two hours north of Flagstaff. I changed my one appointment and agreed to be at his house in an hour. I hadn’t seen Joe for almost two months!

Joe lives outside of Flagstaff with his youngest son and four big dogs. We loaded my sleeping bag, pillow, clothes, and box wine into his pickup truck. Two of the dogs came with us. Zeus is a six year-old boxer and Hayden is a one year-old hound. Here’s picture of Zeus and I bonding.

We made good time to Page. There we went to a Walmart so I could grab some lunch and he could buy a battery in case the one on the boat was dead. He hadn’t taken the boat out since he bought it in early June. Next we went to the storage area where he kept his boat. We transferred our gear into the boat and headed to the lake. We used the Navajo Nation’s Antelope Point launch ramp. It wasn’t busy at all. Joe took the boat, with the dogs, into the water while I parked the truck and trailer. It was about 2:30 and ninety-seven degrees.

Problem:  The boat wouldn’t start even with the new battery. Joe was frustrated but not angry. He said if he couldn’t get it started we could stop at Cameroon for a Navajo Taco and then listen to a band he liked in Flag. I like that Joe doesn’t complain and is flexible.

A young man noticed we were having trouble and offered to help. He was a mechanic. He helped Joe take off the top of the carburetor. They surmised that the engine wasn’t getting the fuel. Joe went to town to get something to fix the boat. I stayed with the dogs. It was so hot I took off my shoes and waded in the water with the dogs.

A while later Joe came back, used the fuel starter, and the boat roared to life. He was much relieved and we were off!

Joe beached the boat on an island. I got into my bathing suit and swam in the delicious lake water while he put up the tarp on the boat for shade. The dogs went exploring, and then rested on the sandy beach. Every so often they would wade in the water to cool down.

The Lake Powell setting is stark and awe inspiring. It’s impossible to take a bad picture of the scenery there, all rock formations, sky, and lake.

We lazed away the afternoon drinking wine and beer and conversing. When the sun started to set Joe made a fire with the logs he’d brought from home. Romantic through not necessary for heat. The low that night was seventy degrees. We and the dogs slept on the boat.

We got up just before sunrise. What a glorious sight! I took a quick dip in the lake before we packed up the boat and headed back.

It was a magical twenty-four hours.

Freaky Friday

August 20, 2012

Freaky Friday

I went back to Scottsdale last week on Thursday to find my house burglarized.  The only things missing were my two televisions, a wireless printer, and a box of checks. I was baffled because my alarm had been set and there was no evidence of a forced entry. Only my neighbor Donna has a key to my house. I decided to go to my book club meeting anyway. On the way I called my problem child but he denied having anything to do with the robbery.

At nine p.m., when I got back from a somewhat desultory discussion of The Book of Night Women, I called the police to report the break-in. The Scottsdale Police said it would be at least a few hours. They suggested I make an appointment for the next day since it wasn’t an urgent matter. (I had no idea when the crime was committed.)

The next morning I took care of business: grooming for the dog, and hair and nail appointments for me, and called my insurance agent who informed me my deductible was only $500 on my home insurance.

I was home by three to meet the police officer; He arrived at four. He took my report and looked around. As we looked at the arcadia door in my bedroom, I realized I hadn’t put the Plexiglas piece in the doggie door, which is quite small.

“Could the burglar have put his arm through the doggie door and used a tool to open the arcadia door?” I asked.

“Very possible,” he replied.

I promised myself to put the Plexiglas in when I left for the cabin.

“Is my alarm difficult to circumvent?” I asked.

He said, “I wouldn’t know anything about that.”

I inferred, perhaps correctly, perhaps incorrectly, that the system was easy to break through. Otherwise, wouldn’t he have said, “It’s hard to beat the alarm.”

The police office called in the Crime Scene Unit who tried to take fingerprints from the wall mount for the bedroom television and the cable box in the kitchen. There were no usable fingerprints.

After they left, I decided to treat myself to a nice dinner. Several people had recommended Uncle Sal’s, an Italian restaurant and bar on the corner of Hayden and Osborn Roads. It’s claim to fame was great food and that it was formerly owned by Sammy the Bull. It was crowded, it being Friday night, but I found a seat at the bar, where the entrees were half the price of the same ones served in the restaurant side. I ordered seared scallops for $9.95 and it came with a salad. I also ordered a Michelob Light.

The man on the next bar stool started chatting with me. He looked about my age. Soon into the conversation he let me know he had a cabin in Pine. He wasn’t there because he had to work on Saturday, but he would head up to join his wife after work. The conversation was on trivial matters but it passed the time while I waited for and ate my scrumptious meal.

I signaled the bartender for the check. Then I felt something on my thigh. Thinking it was a chance encounter, I moved my bar stool a bit away from the gentleman to whom I’d been talking. The bartender brought the tab and I paid in cash.

I again felt a hand on my thigh.

I looked at the guy next to me and said, “Are you hitting on me?”

“Yes,” he said. “Doesn’t it feel good?”

“But you’re married!” I blurted.

“Yes,” he said, “but I’m honest about it.”

I gave him one of my principal stares and said sharply, “I don’t do married men!” I got up and left immediately.


I went to a nearby 99 cent store and bought a cartful of stuff for $15.00 and felt better. I figured that was the end of a weird day. But I was wrong.


At home I set the alarm, I put on a night shirt and settled into bed with my two dogs. I read until I was sleepy. I turned out the light and fell fast asleep. My dogs woke me up with a cacophony of barks. I ran to the kitchen window and looked outside on my front patio. There were five men in dressed in police navy blue with Kevlar vests, guns and a rifle. And what did I do, trusting soul that I am? I opened the door, which immediately set off my alarm. It took me a few minutes to enter the new code and I was worried I’d awakened the whole condo complex.  In my defense, I should mention this was not the first time I had seen such a sight. Last November Maricopa County Probation Officers, similarly dressed, knocked on my door at 10:30 at night, looking for my son who had missed two court appearances. I assumed it was the same guys.

I told the five men I would open the door as soon as I put a robe on. Do I have a summer robe? No. I had to put on a winter polar fleece robe. I felt hot and sticky as soon as I tied the belt securely.

Thus modestly attired, I let the men in. They seemed to know all about my son. He had again skipped a court appearance and there was a warrant out for his arrest. We talked for a little while. I asked them if they wanted to see the stuff that my son had stored in my garage. They looked at it and then out onto the front patio.

One of the men said, “We have something to ask you.”  He hesitated. Then he said, “Would you be willing to call your son and get him here so we can take him in peaceably so no one gets hurt?”

“Let me think about that,” I said. As I was pondering the situation, I glanced at one of the guy’s shirt. It said, “U. S. Army.”

“Are you from the Army? What does that have to do with my son?”

The men looked uncomfortable. The leader said, “Only he’s in the Army.”

This aroused my suspicions. I examined the badges they wore around their necks. They looked just like the one I’d seen on the Scottsdale police officer that afternoon. I peered closer and realized these guys were not from the probation or police department, they were bounty hunters from the bail bond company!

“Get out!” I roared. They left right away.

I went inside and started to shake. An alarm is only as smart as the person using it. I had de-alarmed my house and let in five armed men! Without checking their credentials. I felt so stupid.

The next morning I worked out with a friend. Afterward we went to a bagel place. I saw three Phoenix police officers and approached them. I related my story. “Should I have called 9-1-1?”

“Yes,” one of them replied. “The dispatcher would know if the people at your door are police. Did you pay for your son’s bai9l?”

“No.” I said.

“If you had,” the police officer onti9nued, “the bail bond company would have had the right to knock down your door without your permission.”

Later I check with a neighbor. He hadn’t heard my alarm when I set it off.

Filling out the insurance papers was easy but the payout was very small. And it’s been a hassle trying to get checks for my new account, getting used checks paid and arranging for my automatic deposits to go into the new account. I am re-thinking whether I want to keep my alarm service.






Saga of the Kitchen Island

August 1, 2012

Saga of the Kitchen Island

            Some women are mechanically gifted. Some men are great do-it-yourselfers. I am not at all handy and neither were either of my ex-husbands.

When my childhood friend Linda was visiting from Connecticut, I asked her to rearrange all of the kitchen cupboards. I stopped her short of alphabetizing the spices, but I’m thrilled with the organization. She took the dish drain off the counter and into the second sink. Voila! More counter space.

She moved the refrigerator and suggested I purchase a pantry and a kitchen island for additional storage and counter space. I took the measurements and I looked in Flagstaff. I found a possible pantry at Home Depot. It was inexpensive but cost $79 to deliver! Plus I would have to hire someone to put it together and affix it to the wall. And I didn’t love it.

I looked online and found a butcher-block topped island with the right dimensions on Walmart .com. It was inexpensive and the shipping was free, to my cabin. Bargain! The customer reviews said it took thirty minutes to put together. I was skeptical but decide to give it a whirl.

The package was not delivered to my cabin, as promised. It was left at the Munds Park post office. Pat said it was way too heavy for me to carry. I asked my neighbor Rod if he and another neighbor, Dave, would pick up the package and put it inside. They were so nice to do this for me.

When they were placing it in my living room, Dave asked who was going to put it together. I shrugged and said I was. He laughed. He had experience with kitchen islands and said they were difficult to do. He promised he and Rod would put it together the next day.

The next morning Rod and Dave arrived with more tools than I own. I left for my Book Club meeting. When I got back, the island was partly put together. Rod came over and explained that three pieces were missing, important ones. The bottom of the drawer and a side!

I looked through the paperwork that came with the package. It said NOT to take it back to the store, but to call the customer service number. This I did, but it was the wrong number!

The next morning, after exercise class, I wrestled the box with some boards, and the partially put together island in the back seat of my Honda Civic. I put all the nuts and bolts in a bag; It was also laundry day, so I packed the sheets, towels, and clothes in the trunk.

After I put in the three washes, I drove next door to Walmart and got a cart. I stuffed the box, bag, and partially put together island into it and proceeded inside to customer relations.

There was no one waiting and the woman behind the counter gave me an unwelcoming look. I explained about the delivery problem and the missing parts. I then showed her the paper with the wrong number on it. She checked it against a list she had and her demeanor changed completely. She looked embarrassed.

“I can’t believe they gave you the wrong number!” she said as she took the cart from me and put it behind the counter. I had to guess which credit card I’d used to order the cart. I do hope the refund comes through.

Maybe next time I’m in Scottsdale I’ll look at Lowe’s or a kitchen store. But then I’m still back to the problems of getting it to the cabin and putting it together. Maybe I’ll do it next summer.