You may have noticed, dear readers, that I have been away for a while. I can explain. Spring and summer came over the Figure 8 Ranch with an endless list of work to accomplish: barn building, garden planting, shop-cleaning, mowing, more planting, tree falling, wood splitting, cocktail mixing, raids into northern California, horse buying, and book writing. It is now July and I can safely say that we are out in front of the work, just in time for an enduring heatwave and spectacular afternoon lightning shows, and so I am back to these pages.
It is Quilt Show time in Sisters, one of the three big events in our little town, after the rodeo and the folk festival, which means that we are suddenly overrun with blue hairs from around the world. Don’t get me wrong, they make beautiful quilts, but they can’t drive. Some of them probably should not have licenses. It is hard enough to make a left turn in Sisters, and this is one of those weeks where a trip into town requires a strategy session. Better yet, don’t go to town. If you decide to go into town, be sure to look for that particularly humiliating area known as the “husband babysitting” area. There are men so sadly reduced in their circumstances that they actually agree to go there, and to be seen there, which probably deserves an entire dissertation on the state of American manhood. At any rate, I am resolved to staying here and continuing my war against the Golden Mantles.
If you aren’t familiar with Golden Mantles, I’ll give you a short course. They are the minions of Satan. And they are everywhere. They live in old tree stumps, holes in the ground, and woodpiles, and they destroy gardens. As you may recall, last year our garden was mutilated by an old testament hailstorm in the middle of July. It never recovered and we lost what was a promising amount of food. We built improvements to prevent such an occurrence again, but this year we have been attacked by waves of Golden Mantles. They come in blowing bugles and waving flags and screaming out of the night and they descend on the garden to eat everything in sight. In the last ten days we have trapped 15 of them. I don’t use live traps. I trap to kill. I enjoy killing them because they are trying to eat our food. They are not invited to eat our food, which we like to grow because then we know exactly where it came from. And it tastes better. And it isn’t sprayed with anything that will cause our organs to swell up and fall out. The deer can’t get in, but the Golden Mantles do, and so they must die. If you’ve never seen one, they look like chipmunks, only twice the size. Apparently they are a type of ground squirrel. They are the enemy. Lest you think for some reason that all of this killing is a sad waste, I would like you to know that the buzzards are my new friends. They love me. They roost in the trees and await my daily offering.
One last thing. There are a couple of phrases and words I don’t want to hear anymore. Maybe ever. I’ll start with a new one that has popped up on university campuses recently: micro-aggression. A micro-aggression is anything one might say or do that contains within it the potential to offend the listener. This includes saying things like: “America is the land of opportunity.” Evidently, while we were sleeping, entire communities have been taught that this is an offensive statement. It’s hard to imagine why that might be, and even harder to imagine what the offendee might suffer when forced to hear it. Does it cause uncontrollable shaking? Night sweats? An irreversible scarring of the psyche? Hives? What we can say with some authority is that entire communities in this country have turned so far towards crazy it is difficult to take them seriously. Another one: Make no mistake about it. The next politician who utters this phrase should be smacked in the back of the head with a fungo bat. Usually this one is preparatory to the utterance of some kind of outrageous lie, which in a perverse twist might be an argument to keep it around, given that we can say with authority that whatever follows will be complete hogwash. Another: raising awareness. This one gets thrown around a lot by people who wear hemp undergarments and smear themselves with patchouli oil–a particularly vile smell that mixes poorly with the body odors of those who wear it. Sometimes the raising awareness crowd will kayak out and chain themselves to oil tankers, or stand around the entrance to rodeos with signs because they are mad at rodeos. I feel strongly that I am responsible for raising my own awareness, or choosing not too. I resist the notion that other people need to decide for me my level of awareness. In many cases, actually, I would like to reduce my awareness entirely, but I am merely one man against a constant tide of shrill and largely aimless awareness raising.
Okay friends, all for now. Back soon with further updates on the ranch, and a scathing–but always true, and occasionally funny–treatment of that weird assortment of goons, geeks, philanderers, and nabobs who comprise the administrative staff at a particular police department in southern California. I promise you will like it.