Monday, May 22, 2006

Dinner Is Served, Mr Rat.

Last week I decided I'd heard enough from the Rat RaceTrack above my head. Too much frolicking and fun at the expense of a night's sleep. It was unlikely that in the New Regime, the new owners were likely to call Western Exterminator anytime soon. It was time to take action.

After work I went to Anawalt Hardware, and followed the well-beaten path to the Rat Department. Hoisting myself up out of the groove in the concrete, I studied my options.

I was amused at the array of rat devices on sale. There were various kinds of rat-traps, rat poisons, rat catch-devices, rat condos, and rat sonic annoyers that you can plug into the wall sockets. Before I made my final choice, I had to check them out. One was a metal tubular tunnel that presumed Mr or Mrs Dim Rat was going to stroll in, and then stay in, while a light went off outside. You could then take the tunnel, and humanely turn the affected rodent loose somewhere else, probably after making it promise to sin no more. A simpler version was a card the size of a 5x7 postcard, with glue on it, that the rat would presumably stroll onto, and await you. The Sonic Annoyer broadcasts a frequency that is sure to piss off a rat. I'm certain its the identical frequency that makes Kenny G a favorite. All these were well and good if you wanted to make a lifetime project out of faith and redemption.

My aims were darker. I wanted to be the Dr Mengele of Rodentia; mice to the left, rats to the right. I chose a box of Rat Cuisine, in four convenient servings, and left.

Back home, I suited up with long sleeves, respirator, and rubber gloves before climbing the ladder up to the Hantavirus Speedway. Easing aside the trapdoor, my flashlight surveyed a gloomy rodent funzone, black as night. It was a landscape littered with sprung rat-traps, rat turds, one ancient dessicated mouse carcass that look like it took a direct hit from a Sidewinder missile...but no rat carcasses. Evidently the rats had sprung the traps as an after dinner amusement. I was likewise amused.

I could hear the voice of the vanished Western Exterminator guy, counselling as to why you wanted traps instead of poison. Oh yes, they are going to eat this stuff, and go die somewhere. With traps you can retrieve their little bodies and so forth. That presumes the rat takes a complete head shot, and doesn't stagger off somewhere to Rejoin His Maker. In any event, the constant updraft from basement vent to attic assures a steady mummifying environment, in the event a PETA-fied Howard Carter were ever to discover their remains.

Channelling my Inner Carl, I opened 2 boxes of fresh, turquoise-colored Rat Cuisine for my li'l friends. One, in plain sight. The other, tucked behind a beam, so the rodents who wanted to have seconds wouldn't have to be seen and sneered at by their peers for evident gluttony. I took the other two downstairs into the half-basement. One under a heating duct, the other behind abandoned tubing and ducting on the ground just out of sight at eye-level.

Bon Apetit, you little fuckers.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Mother's Day Bonkfest

It all seemed so klar, Herr Komissar.

Sitting under Dwarf Bo Tree in the famed Corral Canyon parking lot under the late noonday sun, the shade was just enough to lower my core temperature down to brown dwarf levels. From there it was just the canonical 4.2 miles back to the Squirrel, a partial afternoon of temporized frolic in the Santa Monicas. But that was yet to come.

Earlier that morning, I was a mere portent of a Jung Mandala. I was heading up the Pacific Coast Highway, where coastal fog gripped Malibu like Aimee Mann's implacably hostile indifferent lyrics. Once up Latigo Canyon, all was a crystalline harshness that promised a fine hot day. So much for the love of a blonde.

Sunday was the Season's First Hot Training Run of the Rest Of Your Life. We've all been here before, and every year it gets flushed away. Hence, the joy of rediscovery. If gamma rays are subatomic iron molecules boring holes in your corpus delicti, then photons are their dilettante cousins, leaving only boiled basal cells in their wake.

Things were pretty quiet on the Backbone Trail from Latigo Cyn east to Corral Canyon. A few hikers out cool-chillin' while the sun is still somewhat moderated. Now turn left and go up the fire road up to Castro Peak. The sun is at your back, and is real happy to see you. Fortunately the breeze is sending bugs elsewhere, probably a Mother's Day chubby-chow brunch.

Dropping down the Bulldog Rd towards Malibu Creek State Park starts the first sightings of Velo-Bobs working their granny gears and Gumby Pursuits in slo-mo. Sweat pours off these hapless few: they are happy campers, this is normal.

But all this pales to the Work I Set Before Me.

I was pondering my own Da Vinci Code, the one that posits that a cryptic musical phrase played on an Ocarina encapsulates the Mystery Of The Age. This was also sharing neurons with my extended meditations on The SuperModel WayStation (a 501.3 [c] entity), tucked up enchanting Escondildo Canyon north of Malibu. Few facilities on the planet are so well-endowed to cope with tragically burned-out supermodels; to help them regain equilibrium in this world, and to enable them to make their own burritos! This amazing facility is funded through the generosity of the Carter-Wallace Foundation, in addition to specific earmarks provided by enlightened Republican Congressmen in less-salubrious climes. Gawd Bless them all.

I continued my ponderings. I was reaching the apogee of my terrestial orbit, glancing off the main parking lot at the park entrance. Trekking poles and zip-off pants were not in strong evidence, whereas triple-wide off-road strollers were. Some were fitted with aftermarket keg and boombox holders.

Turning rightwards up to the group camp, and camelling up at the tap before the last 11 miles back to the start, I savored the salt that wanted to pickle my eyeballs. Now humping and bumping south through Tapia Park, past a California Boy's Prison, then on a short stretch on the blacktop over Malibu Creek with cars hurtling past on their way to the beach.

All pleasures must come to an end, and I abandoned the petro-carbon Scenic Route to subject myself to the tender mercies of the Backbone Trail, westbound.

Oh joy! Somewhere on that climb my most favorite hip flexors decided that I was having too much fun, which made for some fine walking. And since neither Ian Torrence or a White Rhino were to be seen, I was safe.

Midday in the Santa Monica Mountains is a quiet time. There is no water for large stretches of the range, which thins crowds a lot. In this section, there is water at Tapia Park, and that's it between Trippet Ranch and Circle X Ranch if memory serves correctly. Fortunately, I had bloated up and out at the campgrounds in Malibu, before waddling off. Now I was starting to look for shade.

As it was early in the season, we are still soft-shelled crabs, and the sun was only beginning to beat down. Even in a standing pose, I was exposing 10% of my available self to the sun, and I was not gaining. Shuffling up and over the 3 main humps from the 3 way junction where the Pepperdine/Puerco Cyn and Backbone trails all meet up was just good clean fun. I saw the raised sandstone fins of the Backbone just east of Corral Canyon. I also began to look for opportunistic things like GU packages, forgotten bottles, and what the hell, fresh grapes like I found on Mt Wilson a month ago. No such luck.

Which brings me back to the Dwarf Bo Tree in the Corral Canyon parking lot. My slice of paradise that afternoon was the creosoted timber I was sitting on in the limited shade. A breeze lightened my burden of flies. A young Velo-Bob joined me. He was starting to get used to the differences between SoCal and his late-departed New Hampshire. We batted this and other topics around for a pleasant interval. I would've loved to brew up a billy of tea.

Then it was time to go. Standing up was creaky, with the fleeting memory of the date-expired GU and an even earlier ClifBar fading fast. Things seemed to have realigned themselves, and I was able to shuffle with competence.

The last mile to Latigo Cyn is a steep canyon drop and climb out. I passed 2 fresh-looking people who said they were marking the trail for a horse event the next weekend. OK. In that last section I passed over 20 ribbons fluttering from trees and bushes. All in a section where there are no junctions or forks. I suppose on horseback, you would see ribbons every 3 seconds. And if you or your horse were A.D.D, that could be a good thing.

Bone Regards,
Mr Trail Safety