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I’m hiking on a forest trail near my home, and I’m seeing animal tracks—bear, coyote, and raccoon. Why is that so wonderful? Because I made this short trail earlier this summer and these paw prints are a sure sign that foraging wild animals—trail-hiking royalty—have given my little trail their blessing. Thank you, your majesties.

Speaking of raccoons, I’ll never forget a job I did a few years ago. I got a call from a customer complaining that a raccoon was living under the bathtub of their weekend cabin. After inspecting the home, I discovered a mother raccoon had removed a few pieces of wood shingle siding and wormed her way under the bathtub. What a great home for her babies!

I stood back and marveled at momma raccoon’s skill. If she’d yanked off those shingles just a few inches to the left or right, she’d have been blocked by a wall stud. But she’d hit the hidden bull’s-eye on her first try. How on earth did she find the right spot? Did her awesome nose home in on moisture? Did her supersensitive whiskers feel a draft coming from under the tub? Who knows? But it’s another reason to admire our incredible forest animals.

If you suspect wild animals are invading your home, now is the time to have us escort them out. Now that summer is nearly over, baby animals are grown, which makes our job easier. That saves you money. Call today for a free estimate.

And thanks to you, loyal reader…er, I mean “royal reader”…for reading this article, my “word path.” Thanks for giving it your blessing by reading it through to the end.

Now if you could just yank some shingles and raise your kids under a bathtub, I’d really be impressed!

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The only thing worse than being talked about, is not being talked about.” — Oscar Wilde.

I’m in a complicated dispute with a big online retailer. What a pain! I can’t talk directly to the owner like my customers can talk to me. I’d love to use this weekly forum to air my complaints, but no, I wouldn’t ever do that. Here’s my Pest Pro Guarantee: I promise to never badmouth any person, company, place or thing. Why? Just ask Ben:

I will speak ill of no man and speak all the good I know of everybody.” — Benjamin Franklin

I’m of the school of thought that it does no good to criticize others. Why waste my time? If I have a legal dispute with a company, I file a complaint with my credit card company, or I pursue it in the legal system. Sure, I may mention the issue to people I know, but that’s as far as I go. Is there anything more tedious than rants about “how so and so company done me wrong?” Plus, I don’t give out free publicity, except for companies I like and trust. As a famous circus magnate used to say:

There is no such thing as bad publicity.” — Phineas T. Barnum

We only need look at the political world to see the effect negative publicity has on candidates—very little. Some folks constantly talk about politicians they hate, but the bad publicity doesn’t seem to be hurting those candidates. Even if they lose an election, the fame they’ve gained is sure to guarantee future book sales. If I truly loathe a politician, I won’t even speak their name. I’ll just say “the current office holder” or something like that. And, as the old saying goes: “Speak of the devil, and he appears.

Or gets elected.

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You know, folks, sometimes I get caught in the heat of the moment and write things I regret later—it’s like a night out drinking with old high school buddies.

Regarding last week’s “Diarrhea Doris” diatribe. Although a couple of my secretaries thought it was funny, I realize some folks will think I’ve brought the mountain down a few notches in the class department—and I can’t totally disagree. For them, I decided to “class-up” this week’s article.

Why, this very morning, as I enjoyed a steaming cup of tea, I received a call from a country squire vexed by a common problem. “Mr. Nolan, rats are gaining entrée into my garage, and have sullied my Bentley. Could you please come round and have a look?

“Of course, sir, I’ll pop right out.”

Now, I’d been invited to take part in a polo match, but I rung up my mates and they assured me Prince William would take my place. Quite the sportsman, that one!

Hastening to the estate, I soon found the problem. The European Larch garage doors had been compromised by wind and rain. They had warped and the gaps allowed rodents to enter. Blasted foggy weather! After installing new weather stripping and strategically placed trim boards, everything was as tight and right as rain. Said he, “Good show, Old Boy! Backbone of England!”

“I’m always happy, sir, to rush to the aid of a damsel, er, Bentley in distress!”

In closing, folks, as I like to say at the Polo Club, “Nothing spells S-U-C-C-E-S-S like C-L-A-S-S!” (I’m Diarrhea Doris and I approve this classy ad!)

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The woman on the phone sounded terrified, struggling to put together a string of intelligible words, giving me the feeling she’d just awakened from her worst nightmare. “Mike, I just got out of the shower, and when I reached for my towel, I saw a huge spider sitting right in the middle of it. (She sighs.) I was so scared I ran straight into my bedroom and jumped on the bed. The guy cleaning the windows sure got an eyeful, but who cares. I’m so upset my stomach is tied in knots. Help, Mike!”

We’ve gotten tons of spider calls this year and that’s likely due to all the rain and snow this past winter. Nothing supercharges Mother Nature’s bug machine like rain. For those who suffer from bug phobias, this has likely been one long, tough summer.

And now a word from our sponsor (with apologies to decent people everywhere):

Are you a “Diarrhea Doris?” Do the other mothers blackball you when it’s your turn for lifeguard duty at the kiddie pool because, well…you know. Then call Home Defenders because 9 out of 10 doctors agree that fear of spiders causes nervous indigestion and we all know indigestion causes diarrhea. We’ll wipe away those spiders like bug splatter off a Louisiana windshield. You’ll be the talk of the town when the other ladies wax lyrical, “Why, I do declare! That Doris sure is one fine kiddie pool lifeguard!” At Home Defenders, one call cures it all!

Finally, as our bug-filled summer kicks into high gear, expect to see lots of spiders sprinting around mountain houses. In fact, I recommend keeping a few extra towels in your bathroom, just in case.

Nobody loves spiders like window washers.

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Do visitors need yet another reason to come to the San Bernardino Mountains? How about two?

I’ve sung the praises of Big Bear, that Mecca for Southern California tourists, in past articles. I love Big Bear so much I bought a cabin there. But today I’m tooting the horn of the Arrowhead/Crestline community. Two recent developments have inspired me.

The famous Cliffhanger Restaurant, empty for decades, is now Hortencia’s Mexican Restaurant. With its home-cooked food, sweeping views of the San Bernardino Valley, and live Mariachi bands, it’s a big hit. I wish the owners continued success.

The most exciting Lake Arrowhead news is the long-awaited opening of SkyPark at Santa’s Village. I’ve already got my yearly pass and the place is a winner, especially for mountain bike enthusiasts like me. And it just keeps getting better.

In the evenings these two establishments, formerly empty buildings, crackle with energy and life. Add LouEddie’s Pizza to the mix, and you’ve three fine Highway 18 destinations.

I admire these business owners. There are no words to describe how hard it is to start a business; it’s the ultimate test of commitment. Or madness!

Speaking of mountain businesses, did you know there’s a business that sends technicians to your home to rid them of nuisance pests and critters? Just pick up the phone and they do the rest. Neat idea, huh? I ought to know because that’s my business. Call today if you want a pest free home.

Lastly, I didn’t get paid to promote these establishments. Do I want something for my trouble? Yes, I do. I’m hoping to encourage the next generation of business owners who are planning to make the San Bernardino Mountains an even better destination than it is now.

Let’s just keep dreaming those impossible dreams, folks.

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The invaders came late this year, at the crack of dawn. In a way, I was happy to see them. Their arrival tells me that it’s still summer and I just love summer. That’s our busy season in pest management. That’s when we pest professionals shine.

I got out of bed a few days ago and found ants all over my kitchen. They were Odorous House Ants, one of our major household invading pest from Crestline to Big Bear. We start getting ants calls around March and those calls continue into early fall. In the winter, Odorous House Ants mostly go dormant.

The ants in my home are probably searching for water. It’s dry outside and their watering holes have dried up. But how do these resourceful critters carry water back to their nest? They can’t exactly go to a sporting goods store and buy little canteens. The answer is simple: ant bodies are living water containers. Worker ants can gorge themselves with the precious liquid and waddle back to the nest. Ants are the Swiss Army Knife of the insect world.

We stop Odorous House Ants with either a liquid spray or a bait. Both treatments are very effective in this golden age of high-tech pest management. Call us at the first sign of ants, before they make themselves at home in your home.

I could easily knock out the ants in my house, but I’m hesitating. For me, ants are a symbol of summer, and when they’re gone that means another summer is setting. I know it’s still August, but cooler weather is just around the corner. I think I’ll put up with the ants for just a few more days.

It still summer and I’m still loving it.

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Of all the rotten luck.

I was making time with the most beautiful dame in Hollywoodland, Mrs Sandrelli, and we were moving along just fine, when I saw a spider on the wall above the couch. She saw it too. “Yech, baby! Get that spider! Use a tissue and take it outside. I can’t stand seeing ‘em squashed.”

Rats. I was in a pickle. I hate spiders. I have what shrinks call a “phobia.” Whatever it’s called, it was getting between me and Mrs Sandrelli. If she saw me panic, she’d close up tighter than a daisy at sundown.

I didn’t need this grief. Yesterday, at the Precinct House, Captain Mulroney had growled, “Get over to Huntington Gardens. There’s a dead body fertilizing the petunias.” Great. That place is crawling with spiders. Another lousy day.

Now, I had this problem. Why hadn’t I rung up Home Defenders before our rendezvous? Never mind. Regret is just a four-letter word.

“Hurry up, baby! That spider’s giving me the creeps. I’m getting out of the mood.”

“OK doll, I’ll get to it.”

I had no choice. This was man’s work. So I took a deep breath, grabbed a tissue, and brought it down on that spider. Swell! As easy as pie. Suddenly, the feisty critter started squirming. It kept squirming like an alley cat squeezing under a fence—and then it broke free! In a flash it was running up my arm, heading for my jugular. I screamed, “Don’t kill me! Don’t kill me!” but just when I thought I was a goner, it jumped to the floor and ran for Timbuktu. I quickly regained my composure, but the damage was done.

The last thing I saw was Mrs Sandrelli’s gams as they walked out my front door.

She’ll be back.


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I first saw the spider as the clock chimed eight in the morning. It was running for the safety of my icebox. I grabbed my fly swatter and the chase was on. With me and spiders, it’s kill or be killed. The creature was black, hairy, and had the crooked legs of a mangy street dog. In full sprint, I slipped on a stocking. What dame left that? Oh right, Mrs Sandrelli. The spider darted under the icebox just as my swatter went “smack” on the floor. Lucky stiff.

I didn’t need this headache. At the precinct house yesterday, Captain Mulroney had barked at me, “Get over to the sewage treatment plant. There’s a corpse stinking up the joint.” Great. Just what I needed. A murder to solve at a spider-infested hellhole.

I hate spiders. I have a fear of them. I can handle a crook with a .38, an angry broad with a stiletto, or jealous husband with a baseball bat, but I lose my marbles at the sight of a lousy spider.

I phoned those exterminators, the ones with the stories in the newspaper. “Operator, get me LUdlow-7 8623…Is this Home Defenders? Say, can you send someone over to get these spiders out of my bungalow? Thanks, doll.”

I lit my first, poured myself a double, and waited on the couch. Sure, it was early, but clocks don’t run my life. I calmed down. Maybe spiders aren’t so bad after all.

Suddenly, I saw that spider charging at me like a Plymouth on the Pasadena Freeway! It bolted up my leg as I screamed, “Don’t kill me! Don’t kill me!” but the dirty rat sank its fangs into my jugular. Then, on the brink of blacking out forever, I woke to a knock at the door.

Damn rotgut.

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…and around it goes. Where does it stop? Only the bumper sticker knows.

What’s the “it” I’m talking about? An ant with an inner ear disorder? A swirling dervish of a mouse chasing its own tail? A bat whose echolocation is out of whack? No, I’m talking about the baffled brain of a frustrated homeowner thinking, “How are those darn moths getting into my home?”

Of all the pests that drive people crazy, moths are high on the list. People tell me they despise them because they’re so unpredictable—you pick up a towel and out flies a moth! It’s so annoying. Plus, moths can come in droves. People call us, asking, “Where do they come from? How do they get in my home? Why did they pick on my house?”

Unfortunately, the lives of moths are shrouded in mystery, and there’s no clear answers to those questions. But, here’s some facts about moths: They start life as hungry caterpillars. Like all mountain pests, they come from the forest, squeezing into your home through cracks around windows, doors, and eaves.

But why, oh why, did they pick your home? Well, did you offend Mother Nature? Did you curse her name with a bitter heart? Of course not. Well then, like the bumper sticker (sorta) says, “Stuff Happens.”

If you’re being harassed by moths, we’ll fly to your home, squeeze inside and perform a free inspection. Moths are hard to control, but we can treat around the doors, eaves and windows and push back against Mother Nature’s annoying little avengers. Call today.

While most pests can be consistently controlled, moths are a rare exception. But, let’s get philosophical and turn our frustration into a new bumper sticker: “Stuff Happens…just be thankful they don’t sting!”

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For her, I suppose, it was just another morning out with the ox and cart. For me, it was just what I needed.

It’s been six months since I went to India for my annual vacation, and now it’s time to get plane tickets for my 2018 trip. We all need a vacation, especially stressed out business owners like me. I was making my travel arrangements online when I had a flashback from last year’s trip.

One sunny morning, I was jogging on a forest path near Pondicherry, surrounded by singing birds and exotic trees, when I saw a big animal lumbering towards me on the wide dirt path ahead. It was an ox and it was slowly pulling a wooden flat cart. The only concession to modernity were the rubber tires. Seated on a bench, looking like a stagecoach driver in a Western, was a blond-haired, blue-eyed woman in her twenties. As she passed, I said, “hi” and she said, “hi” in return. She had an American accent.

I was dying to say, “Who the heck are you and how on earth did you end up on an ox-driven cart in Southern India?” but I minded my own business, and her’s too, and kept on jogging. Every so often I looked back, wondering where she was going on that rig from the middle ages. But, like many things in India, it was all a mystery.

Yes, I’m busy making plans for my trip in January. All too soon, on another sunny day, I’ll be back on that trail again, back in that land of singing birds and exotic mysteries.

And the only stress will be on that ox’s shoulders.