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Jesse Adair was nervous and rightly so. Not only was he leaving our Catholic high school campus during school hours, he had a handful of cash and was going to buy contraband. The risk was great.

Twenty minutes later, he came sneaking in the back door, and no teacher was the wiser. He had white paper bags in hand and he dealt them out to a small gaggle of us gym class boys. I opened my bag and there it was—long, cylindrical, and rolled to perfection. It had an exotic name, one I’d never heard before. It was called a “burrito.”

I still remember the day the first ever Mexican restaurant opened in my hometown of Jacksonville, Illinois. Mexican cuisine exploded with color and spice and a big pinch of panache—and we teens went bananas. Heck, it even had salsa.

The exotic fare scared our parents and that only made it taste better. One day, feeling adventurous, my older brother, Dave, brought tacos home for supper. My dad eyeballed one suspiciously, then took his first bite. The taco gods surely watched in amusement as the crispy shell shattered into a dozen pieces. “So, do you like it, Dad?” my brother asked.  Dad’s verdict was short and sour. “I’m not a man who likes fighting his food.“

Just as Dad didn’t like fighting tacos, homeowners don’t like fighting pests. So, whatever’s making your world crumble—ants, spiders, rodents—call today and we’ll rush to your home like Jesse speeding to the taco shop. You can count on Home Defenders to deliver the goods.

Dad eventually came around and now enjoys Mexican food. Oh, and in case you’re wondering, Mom loved Mexican food from the get-go. After all, it had the one quality she’s always loved in a meal: somebody else made it.

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Psst! Hey reader…has summer gone yet? I don’t know, because I write these articles a week in advance. Heaven knows summer has a temper. If he’s still hanging around, please distract him while I sing the praises of his arch-rival winter.

Last week, I thanked summer for all he’s done for us, and reminded him it’s time to hit the road. I’m assuming he’s gone, so I’d like to personally welcome winter to our mountain.

Wow, winter, we really missed you. You’re the best season of all! Thanks for bringing us all that snow last year, and we’re hoping you plan to flex your muscles again this year. Without you our mountain would just shrivel up and die. The ski resorts sure love you. I hope they’ll leave you a little something extra in your Christmas stocking. By the way, what’s your favorite food? Oh, mangoes, huh. Who knew.

So, how’s your husband, Surly, and your dog, Furball? Oh, so Surly wants to play racquetball with me? Well, uh, the thing is…I pulled a hamstring and my doctor told me not to play until March or so. Geez, I’ll miss playing against ol’ Surly…maybe next year.

Hey, reader, do you think that pests just blow away with the winter storms? Well, I’m here to say, “Oh, no they don’t!” Rats and mice will cozy up and raise their young’uns in your toasty warm home. So, when pests run in from the cold, call Home Defenders today for your free evaluation.

So welcome back, madame winter. Snuggle up and make yourself at home on our mountain. But…while your blasting us with ice and snow, uh, I’ll be heading to India, my Endless Summer winter vacation spot. Bye.

Come on now, don’t take it so personally!

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Hey, summer, how are you these days? I see you’re still hanging around. You even set a new heat record for the opening day of the World Series. Thanks for helping the Dodgers get a win—Kershaw pitches best on hot LA evenings. When you shine your light, good things happen.

Say, summer, have I told you lately how much I appreciate you? After all, you bring singing birds and lovely flowers and long days to our mountain. I got in some great bike rides in Big Bear thanks to you. You’re the best, summer!

But the thing is…uh, how do I put this delicately? It’s just that you need to know when to leave, buddy. We need winter to bring rain and snow. Those things bring life to the mountain, and that makes your return next year even better. Isn’t that how the big boss, Mother Nature, wants it? Sure, summer.

Aw, come on, man! Don’t get mad at me. I’m just the messenger, the schmuck who drew the short straw. Where’s that big, bright, bougainvillea smile? Yeah, there it is.

Hey, mountain residents, are late summer pests interfering with your holiday plans? Sure they are. Bugs are as unwelcome as a sweltering October heat wave. So call Home Defenders today and we’ll knock out those critters just like summer knocks out those depressing winter blues. And that’s just another reason to love our friend summer!

So, summer, have a good time down in Mexico, or wherever it is you go in winter. Say hi to your wife, Daisy, and your dog, Frisbee, for me. Adios, amigo. I’ll count the days till we meet again. Bye.

(Geez, considering how graciously winter leaves every year you’d think some seasons could take a hint.)

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“The customer is always right!” That’s what they say in business, and I don’t argue with customers. I don’t argue with my neighbors, either. Does that mean a neighbor is always right?

We’ve had several calls this past month from concerned homeowners with manmade waterfalls or ponds. Bees and wasps are thirsty during these final days of summer, and they gather by the hundreds around the banks of the water features, drinking to their heart’s content. That’s a scary sight in and of itself, but it can be terrifying for people who are allergic to bee stings.

I realize that these homeowners have put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears—and money—into building their water features. I’d love to help them reduce the risk, but the only remedy would be to painstakingly locate and eliminate all nests within, say, a one-mile radius. This would be a Herculean effort, with little chance of success. I’m afraid that where there’s a pond,  flocks of thirsty wasps and bees will belly up to the bar. That’s just Mother Nature’s way.

Though we can’t eliminate all pests from the forest around your house, we’re experts at eliminating pests that invade your home. If you want a testimonial, just take it from my neighbor. “Hey, everybody, I’m Mike’s neighbor and I think Home Defenders is the best gosh darn company on the mountain. Call ‘em today and don’t let critters ruin your holiday hootenannies.”

Thanks neighbor, uh, I’ll leave that case of Coors in your tool shed.

Speaking of my neighbor, I was talking with him about this problem of wasps drinking at manmade ponds, and he bluntly asked, “Why don’t those folks just drain the darn things when the wasps get bad?”

Hey, everybody…my neighbor said it, not me.

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If your house could talk, what would it say? Would it warn you about the number one threat to its existence? What would that threat be? Hmm…

It might warn you about the dangers of fire. But fire is a show-off, and when it strikes, muscle-bound men and women riding big machines race to the rescue. How many of our mountain homes are on fire as you read this? Likely none. Why would a talking home waste its breath warning you about the obvious?

No, if your home could speak, I think it would alert you to the dangers of a more subtle menace—a threat so seemingly harmless you could drink it. Yes, the biggest hazard to a home, day in, day out, is the very substance we use to fight fire: water.

When water enters the walls of your home, it invites a bunch of cronies along for the party, namely dry rot, fungus, termites, and carpenter ants. And boy, do they have a good time munching on floor joists, wall studs, and roof rafters. By the time you see there’s a problem, you’re stuck with a big repair bill. Those guys party like its the end of the world.

Do you want to know if you’re home has been invaded by a bunch of critters drunk on moist wood? Of course you do. Then call us today for a free inspection. We’ll seek out telltale signs of rot, and stop water and its axis of doom from destroying your house. Here at Home Defenders, we’re experts at making your home last a lifetime.

And if your house could talk, it’d give you a big, heartfelt “Thank you!”

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“Hey Mike, do those wood chips I spread around my yard bring termites?”

I had a customer on the phone asking me something I’d never been asked before. It was a good question because it reflected a basic understanding of termite facts, namely that termites live in the ground and eat wood.

So is it OK for him to put those chips in his yard? Sure. Wood chips used for landscaping are usually made of cedar or redwood, and termites don’t eat cedar or redwood. So let those chips fall where they may.

“But Mike, what does attract termites to our mountain homes?” people routinely ask me. Well, most cabins get infested with termites when a wood portion of the home—typically deck posts, siding, and stair bottoms—come in direct contact with the soil. I recommend that once a year you take a walk around your house and check to make sure that no dirt has washed down against the wood parts of your home. If it has, dig it away. Doing that simple chore after the rainy season can save you a lot of money in future repair costs. If you don’t want to strain your back, call us and we’ll take care of it for you. Preventing termites and saving you money is what we do.

And please keep those questions coming, I love ‘em.

So, what’s the most common question I get? That’s easy. “Hey Mike, how can I get rid of that furry critter that tunnels in my yard, munches on crunchy roots, and just drives me crazy.” My answer: I don’t advise people on how to get rid of Bugs Bunny. I may be an exterminator, but I’m no monster.