Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California on June 9, 1998 · Page 6
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Ukiah Daily Journal from Ukiah, California · Page 6

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Ukiah, California
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Tuesday, June 9, 1998
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Page 6
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LOCALLY OPERATED MEMBER DONREV MEDIA GROUP Donald W. Reynolds, Founder . WdahDaily ournal (USPS 846-920) Dennis Wilson, Publisher K.C. Meadows - Editor Janet Noe - Advertising Manager Vic Martinez - Production Manager Yvonne Ben - Office Manager Ken Bohl • Circulation Manager IN OUR OPINION , Firefighters provide :words to the wise Fire departments throughout Mendocino County are urging residents to do something now about the high grass and extra vegetation El Nino has brought. We advise everyone to take them seriously. The heavy and frequent rains of 1998 resulted not only in higher grass but thicker grass too. Firefighters say the wildland grasses are probably three times as thick as usual. That means when a fire gets started there's a lot of fuel to keep it going. When the summer heat (finally) gets here, drying those wildlands, it will be a disaster waiting to happen. Local residents need to do whatever they can to protect themselves. That means doing all the things firefighters urge every fire season: • Cutting the grass around your house. • Cutting away tree branches near your home or - over your roof. "".. • Cutting away tree branches that hang low to the 'ground and could be set aflame by a grass fire. '* • Making sure your fireplace chimney screens are in working order. • Clearing your rain gutters of leaves and other /vegetation. £. Our local firefighters - many of them volunteers '"V are ready and willing to come to our rescue if a ' wildland or house fire starts. The least we can do is be smart and try to make „ their job just a little less risky. ;OTHER OPINIONS -irom around the nation ^Sun-Sentinel of Fort Lauderdale, Fla. • On medical breakthroughs •. In the new world order of managed health care, the benefits of a new medical breakthrough are Toften overshadowed by questions about costs and Rationing expensive cures.... '• Take Viagra, the new wonder cure for impotence. ... •'•' Federal officials who oversee the government's ''health insurance program for the poor are nearing a .decision on whether to order state Medicaid pro•grams to pay for the little blue potency pills. ... '• Viagra is simply the latest promising new treat- ,'ment that produces the disturbing fiscal side effect ^of forcing health insurers into a Solomon-like role '"of determining which patients really need the treatment. ... In an era of new promises and ever-increasing costs, health insurers will need more than the easy-,out solution of a blanket denial of Viagra and other •"quality-of-life" treatments to the poor. ... ' But our nation's health-care resources are limited. ... .. In this new world order, one man's sexual potency may cost another his teeth. JThe Advocate, Baton Rouge, La. On the budget surplus Nobody in Washington should be talking about "tax cuts or new spending while the country has a Rational debt of $5.5 trillion, projected to reach "$5.9 trillion in five years. ... After almost 30 years of reckless deficit spend- jng and about 17 years in which the debt has grown from approximately $1 trillion to its current level .under both Republicans and Democrats, the politi- Jjians in both major parties are crowing over a budget surplus of $39 million, which really doesn't exist. Except for some fiscal tomfoolery involving money from Social Security and other trust funds, we'd still have a $63 billion national debt. But, as the saying goes, that's close enough for government work. ... •'": President Clinton rightly is opposing any use of "the surplus until there's bipartisan agreement on a plan to preserve Social Security. But beyond that, 4ven Clinton is raising the possibility of tax cuts. ... '" This literally is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity "jo regain fiscal sanity. If we don't get a handle on the debt now, we might never have another chance. The Ukiah Daily Journal's email address is: udj@saber.net. Meeting with a mountain lion To the Editor: David and I sat in the theater in Ukiah, crunching popcorn, and watching "Deep Impact" on the stained screen during this past Memorial Day weekend. On the drive back to our property off Orr Springs Road - our forty-acre-hope-of-retirement- parcel - we talked about the "what ifs" of cataclysmic events. We spoke of nuclear winter, meteors and various survival strategies, but by the time we made it up the mountain and down our winding dirt road, on the blackest of'moonless nights, we decided when the meteor came we would probably just go to bed. We lay in each others arms and I could feel the red tree ants that had invaded the trailer begin to sting my arms. I laughed, "I don't know about you, but if surviving a nuclear winter is as tough as a weekend in the woods I think I'll pass on the experience." But inside I was feeling content with life's unknowns as we listened to the wind in the huge oak tree over us, protecting our trailer in the woods. I didn't feel quite as passive the next day when I met a mountain lion. The morning of Memorial Day was perfect. The turkeys were calling to each other and a deer was standing in the meadow among the deep blue, wild iris. A pair of mallard ducks had landed in our pond which is filled from our springs. David decided to weed around our orchard of fruit trees, which is an incongruously cultivated spot in the middle of fir and madrone trees. He says it is for the fruit when we retire, but I think the need to put his stamp on the land is as primitive as a wolf needing to mark the perimeters of his territory. I decided to take a hike. I shouted to David, "I'm heading for the redwoods, I'll be back in a couple of hours." I always figured that hiking alone is sort of like swimming alone, someone ought to know where you're planning to be. "See you later," he said absentmindedly. Then as I was striding off he added, "Watch out for the rattlesnakes, they're out now." I followed the old dirt logging road west through patches of bushes and wildflowers of a dozen varieties, to where the woods got dense and mossy. The ferns curled from rocks and the undergrowth was high. The lichen was brilliant orange and gold plumage on the fallen logs, and pollywogs were wiggling in all the creek puddles. When I was about a mile and a half from our property, or from any sign of civilization, I almost stepped in a pile of feces, the spoor of sasquatch I thought at first inspection. It was a huge mound, glistening fresh, and filled with fur. I picked up a stick and poked it, curious as to what animal could leave such a bold sign of having been there. Feral pigs and large dogs don't look like that, nor was this any kind of herbivore. The adrenaline rush hit me even before I saw the dinner plate size paw prints in the rain softened dirt. I knew it was a mountain lion - and it had just been there. I turned a full three-sixty, looking intently for the cat. I could feel my heart clamoring to get out of my body. I stood for a few minutes, but not seeing it, I turned back toward our property, or actually to David, for I always equate him with safety. I hoped the mountain lion had gone on in the other direction, but my phantom ancestral hairs were standing upright waiting for the slightest rustle. Every few steps I pivoted around, waiting to see a charging cougar. It is amazing how high speed the mind goes at moments of peril. I thought of the falling meteor, that I must look like a succulent, round, easy-to-catch dinner, and that my bright blue shirt was probably a come-get-me color. The newspaper story came to mind of the man, who, not far from where I was, had his thumb bitten off and his arm ripped by a mountain lion. I thought about self defense, but all I could see were rain-rotted sticks and small rocks. Even with a large branch, I couldn't fend off an attack for I was just recovering from a spinal fusion of my neck. I envisioned the old movies of game hunters in Africa with the big cats lying in wait in tall grass, then charging. I wanted Robert Redford to say, "Don't move." I could feel my skin burning as I hyperventilated. About fifty yards back on the path I had just THIS MUST BE owe OF THOSE HNVO FOUL I NEED OPEN HEHKT AND THEV SENT ME TO Ik DENT/St! come from, off to my left, I smelled the unmistakable stench one gets inside the big cat building during the two o'clock feeding at the San Francisco Zoo. I can't even describe the terror I felt at that moment knowing the mountain lion was right there. I looked behind a bramble of blackberry , bushes that were just sprouting leaves, and about eight feet from me was the coffee-latte colored mountain lion. He seemed as long as a twin bed. At warp speed I was trying to remember the things I had read - do I make eye contact? Do I scream or remain silent? No, screaming might provoke him. Do I lie on the ground and act dead? Do I charge him waving my arms? I knew not to run; I'd read those articles about the woman who ran and the mountain lion assumed she was fleeing prey and killed her. But I couldn't remember anything else. Panic precluded all decisions. I didn't look again at the lion, I just kept walking, trying to look purposeful, but I was waiting for a snarl and long sharp claws to rip open my back. I thought, if it attacks I hope it kills me. With luck I'll have a heart>attack. I had images of trying to crawl the mile-and-a-half back with my intestines dragging along in the dirt. The animal moved parallel to me through the brush and trees just a few yards away. I tried to walk evenly, but my breathing was erratic. It was silent - no panting noise - just the snapping of twigs. Two squirrels shrieked, dashing from the lion's path, and ran in front of me. I smelled the strong feline odor, and I am sure it smelled me. I remembered things, such as not letting an animal sense fear, but I could feel the moisture on my shirt and hands that must have radiated the kill-me-now odor. Just then three dark vultures began circling overhead. They always circled in the thermals rising from the valley, but at that instant I knew they had sensed my death pheromones diffusing into the air, as though I were some kind of tomato moth that could send my messages for miles. The mountain lion walked parallel to me for about a quarter of a mile. Then I stopped seeing the bushes move to my left, but my vision was getting blurry. I kept waiting for the pounce, or the teeth. I wondered how anyone could explain to my grandchildren how I was eaten by a mountain lion. I would be show and tell drama at their schools for years. Carving up a Thanksgiving turkey would certainly resurrect stories of "Poor Grandma." In an instant a lion could change my legacy to future generations. No one would remember my cheesecake or that I had been a nurse during the Viet Nam war. Then the trail broke into a meadow full of sunshine and wildflowers. I did not see the mountain lion again. By the time I made it back to our trailer, my legs were shaking so badly I could hardly stand. I sank into our old chair and told David, who was sitting picking ticks off his socks, about my near extinction. He said, "You were really lucky to see a mountain lion, they don't usually sho>y themselves. I wish I'd seen it. Actually, I meant to tell you this morning that his tracks are all around our pond." At that moment I flashed thoughts of tying him to one of those tethers that hunters put on goats, then I'd stake him in the woods and let him be lion bait. "He could have killed me!" I fumed. I was really angry at the lion, but at that moment I didn't know it. David put his long legs out in front of him, looking relaxed in the sun. "No. That mountain lion is as much a part of this land as we are." "Well I'd like to get a gun and shoot it. It might even be rabid. It was so bold." David laughed. "I don't even want to think of you with a gun. You'd be more dangerous than the lion. Besides they're protected by law;'*' 1 ' "Well if we killed it, it Isn't like it has family members who will turn in a missing person report. We can't bring grandchildren up here with a huge beast lurking around. Our pond is going to be its hunting ground since everything drinks here." "I don't want to kill it," David said. "I think you are overreacting." I said nothing to the gentle man I still loved after thirty-two years, although at the moment I couldn't remember why. I looked at the ant bites on my arms, then kicked away a scorpion that my shoe had uncovered from under an oak leaf. I thought of all those people waiting for the meteor to hit the earth, and for a moment I was jealous - at least all of them got to share the experience. Heidi Wilson Castro Valley The Daily Journal welcomes letters to the. editor. Only letters that include a legible • signature, return address and phone number will be considered. Shorter, concise letters , will be given preference and names will not be withheld for any reason. All letters are subject to editing. Fax to 468-3544, mail to Letters to the Editor, P.O. Box 749, Ukiah, 95482 or email them to udj@saber.net. The happy loser One day a few weeks ago I came from a Lion's Club meeting and got the shock of my life. My wife informed me that she had just returned from a trip to the liquor store. There were two primary reasons why I was so shocked. First, we live in a dry county and the nearest liquor store is in Palarm, about 15 miles away on the Faulkner- Pulaski County line. Next, I teach a couples Sunday School class and needless to say, for my wife to be seen going in or coming out of a liquor store would not be a good witness for the Lord. However, I will give her credit. She took great precaution and planned it out very carefully. She didn't have much pocket money so she went to the bank to get cash so she wouldn't have to give the liquor store a check. She also took the back way in the hopes that no one would see her van, that has a paint job that everyone we know can spot a mile away. At this point she told me the rest of the story. Because of some problems that she has been having with her arm, medical diagnosis has revealed that she might have a slight case of arthritis. One of her friends told her that Paul Harvey had been touting a concoction of gin and white raisins as something that could help to relieve the pain. Not to leave you hanging, you mix a pint of gin with a box of white raisins and then stir it once a day for Jim Davidson is a syndicated columnist. Jim Davidson nine days. When this process is complete, you eat 10 raisins each day until they are all gone. Because of the conversation we were both laughing and it reminded me of the fellow who had a race horse. At least he thought it was a race horse However, when he got his horse out and ran him around the track, he would just barely get out of a slow lope. He did so want his horse to run in a race but he knew he could not win. Then he remembered reading somewhere that you could dope up a race horse and he would run one last dying race He would really move out. At this point he got to thinking about what kind of dope to use. He finally decided to use a little "white lighting," which is to say a little moonshine whiskey. It really took some doing but he finally poured about half a gallon down his horse's throat. ; About a week later he was telling a friend about the race. He said, "I wish you could have been there to see my horse run. They shot the gun and he bolted out of the gate, his tail was sticking straight out, his ears were back and when he came around the final turn dust was flying and rocks were breaking out windshields. This fella said, "well, did your horse win?" This man said, "No-o-o, my horse didn't win, but he's the happiest loser you ever saw."; In a way this story kinda applies to my wife. We can't tell whether or not the gin spiked raisins are helping her arthritis, but I can tell you this for sure, she is happier than she has ever been. Not long after this experience, I told this story at a Chamber of Commerce banquet and a lady said to me afte): the meeting, "I don't know if you were watching my husband or not, but he was laughing so hard that he almost fell out of his chair." < In the Bible we read in Proverbs 17:22 "A joyfuji heart is good medicine. But a broken spirit dries up the bones." In my opinion, we all need to have 4 good laugh from time to time and to have fun and really enjoy life. I hope you are not like the lady who came up to me after another speaking engage;- ment and said, "I want you to know, while yoij were telling some of those stories, I had to bite my tongue to keep from laughing." ', Jim Davidson can be contacted at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, Ark., 72032. '<

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