The World's Most Exciting Column

by Calendar Hacksaw

For the umpteenth time, like déjà vu to the sixth power, wildfire races across the Piutes in the general direction of the Twisted Sisters Ranch, and we are forced to take stock of what we have, what we cherish and what we might lose.

Already, earlier today, Betty and I mulled it over and decided that if it happens, it happens. We will not ask, "Why us?" but rather, "Why not us?" We would certainly not be the first to lose a cabin to the whims of nature. We will prevail, one way or another. And we would build a bigger place next time, with significantly greater fire clearance. Maybe three rooms, a well and indoor plumbing. Just dreaming.

Breaking her year-long sabbatical, Betty came up the hill last weekend to do some summer cleaning. This ordeal is best left until July, as June is "moth month." If you have never experienced "moth month" at 7,000 feet, I invite you to join us for the annual clean up next July. Picture yourself entering a cabin that has been closed up tight for more than a month and finding it carpeted with thousands of moth carcasses. How and why they get inside is anyone's guess. Bring a generator, a good vacuum, and make sure the bag is empty. As long as you're coming up, bring some beer, too.

And, just as June is "moth month," July is "mosquito month." This is celebrated from about 6:00 to 8:00 each night, and it's best to stay indoors during this period. At dusk, the bats come out and take care of the problem in short order. I love nature.

I like taking Betty up on the mountain; road trips with her are always special. She seems to enjoy getting away and cleaning a different house for a change. Up here, she can get really dirty and not much care about it. So, the outhouse is spider-free again, the carpet is clean, as is the floor of the trailer, and she would have tackled much more had I given her the green light. But there are other things to do on the mountain, too, if you get my drift. We haven't been married all these decades just for kicks.

Betty works a bit too hard for my taste, and demands that I do the same. I'll admit I'm not able to keep up with her anymore. Three or four hours is about it for this old dog. But I take solace in the fact that it is me who packs and unpacks the truck two times each trip, coming and going. Not to mention the driving. So, I'm not feeling real guilty.

One problem we're faced with is the "build-up" beneath the outhouse. In really wet years, the problem seems to resolve itself. But now we are soon facing a crisis, and Betty wants your advice. Is there some microbe-starter formula we can dump in the hole to speed up the process of decomposition? My e-mail address appears at the end of this column, and Betty would sure appreciate your suggestions; the cheaper, the better. We don't want to dig a new hole and start from scratch. Ten years of using lime hasn't had the desired effect.

We are in the process of painting the exterior of the place, one wall at a time, torn as we are between Behr Stain's "Russet," 'Valise" and "Woodbridge." Granddaughter Persephone favors "Woodbridge," and since we've left the place to her in our will, I suspect she will have her way. I just wish she would help with some of the painting.

The best day of my life will come when Percy chooses a husband and he learns what he gets as part of the dowry. Sorry, Chuck; no goats! No camels! Acres of pine, fir and oak instead! The joke's on you!

Actually, land prices on the mountain have skyrocketed of late, and I can't help but wonder where it's headed. There was a time not long ago when I wondered if I could ever hope to get out of it what we'd put into it. But that time is long gone. We're being openly solicited, and I'm hanging on for the ride.

Yes, we've got lots of new neighbors, and that has certainly impacted one aspect of mountain life: the freedom to wander around outside without wearing any clothes, which was one of the primary reasons we came up here. I imagine a lot of you feel the same way. There was a time when us mountain folks could fetch something from the truck or follow a curious animal sound all the way out to the main road, without fear of discovery. Now, we have to wait until all the little rug rats and their mothers are safely tucked in for the night. The "clothing optional" signs don't seem to mean anything to these yuppies.

So, I guess that's it in a nutshell. The flames are indeed a concern to us, but life goes on, and we plan for the future as though it was assured, all the while griping about the many new faces and our seeming loss of privacy. We will place our trust in true professionals like fire boss Hal Yearwood and the thousand or so dedicated men and women just like him who bravely toil in scorching heat to protect our homes and natural resources. If the fire gets to us, so be it. Early on, we were told our place would have a great view of Walker Basin if it weren't for all the trees. Now, perhaps we will find out.

Calendar Hacksaw can be roused or aroused at, and he'll bet there's more than one reader who can tell him where Casa de los Cerritos was located, what it was and how it got its name. Don't let him down.

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