Tag Archive | snakes

Teresita Girls Part 1


I’m terribly sleepy with cracked lips due to stupidity from forgetting my lip balm and insanely happy and at peace. I also have slightly blue hands because I did some tie-dye. I never do it for myself but D asked me so I did it. This was the camp reunion for the Catholic girls camp I worked for many eons ago before the ice age and I was the Arts and Crafts Director there. I’ve never been able to use gloves. I hate them. The only thing I have ever used gloves for was acid etching in glass work but for tie-dye or candlemaking or anything else I have never used gloves. I won’t even use them for gardening. I need to feel and be in touch with what I’m doing. It’s like wearing earmuffs and trying to perform music. I feel too removed from the process with gloves. This used to lead every summer to having what I used to call my asbestos hands because I used hot Rit dues and hot candlewax for dipping and pouring. You combine this with several times a day of playing a steel string guitar and you have a set of very calloused mitts. So I’m blue in the hands but no where else.

It was lovely to be up with old friends and campers and new friends that were staff other years. Some people had been there since Wednesday, we couldn’t go up until Friday morning. Glad I remembered my cane because the mountain has been cranked up since last year, at least that was what it felt like. According the scale in the cafeteria at work I lost 6 lbs on those mountains.

The long time camp maintenance man died this summer so we had a memorial and dedicated a tree to him Friday night. I will always be grateful to Mr Ken because in a story that is now funny but it wasn’t at the time. I was the non-Catholic in camp. They thought I was Protestant but I was reading through the book my first HP had given me Positive Magic. Anyway, I was almost always excused from attending Mass on Sunday afternoon when the priest came. So I decided on Sunday I was going to take a nice hot shower. Arts and Crafts and the Convent shared a shower that used to hang over the San Andreas fault and I was always afraid of going over the side in an earthquake naked but I should have been worried about other hazards. I undressed and got in and took a nice hot shower, something that was a real luxury and was nicely clean. The tiny building just contained the shower stall and a very tiny dressing area. I pulled the shower curtain back and was about to step out when I noticed a friend (?) had entered the shower after me. There was a rattlesnake coiled up on the dressing area floor. Now, I’m not afraid of snakes at all but when confronted naked as a jaybird in the shower when as far as I knew every one was in Chapel at Mass is a bit scary. Because he was coiled he could easily reach me in the shower stall. I managed to grab my towel from a hook and leaned over far enough to get the door open so I could see out by pushing it with my toe and waited. Luckily, after about 15 very long minutes hoping that the rattlesnake would not find me as the warm body closest to him, Mr Ken and Mr Mike (his assistant) went by on the road on the way to the tool shack. Mr Ken was very devout but for some reason he wasn’t in Chapel probably because if everyone was in Chapel, he could get something done.

I got their attention and of course, it was kind of funny to them, they weren’t in the shower starkers with the snake but they did get a shovel and take care of the naughty thing and I got dressed. Now I know it must have looked really funny but at the time it certainly wasn’t and if he hadn’t come along I don’t know what I would have done because I think I was the only one in camp with snake killing experience because they always called Mr Ken to do it. I am eternally grateful I did not end up the naked counselor dead in the shower like some camp horror story to scare small children with around the campfire.

The California Boogie Man

If you grow up in California and in particular in Southern California there is a boogie man that is always there, the San Andreas Fault. From the time you are very small when people talk about earthquakes they are talking about the San Andreas and the “what ifs”. It doesn’t seem to matter that none of the damaging earthquakes that have hit Southern Cal in my life time are the fault of the San Andreas Fault. It is the one they talk about.

It is a bad boy, it has caused the 1906 San Francisco quake and the 1989 Loma Prieta but it hasn’t rocked the boat down here. Most of the time it’s faults like the Whittier Fault or the previously unknown Northridge fault that have caused big quakes but it really doesn’t matter the boogie man is the San Andreas.

So imagine how delighted I was when I went to work at Teresita smack on the San Andreas. It was literally right out the door of my Arts and Crafts building and straight down into several hundred precarious feet. I had nightmares those 2 summers about being out in A&C with the kids and having the building fall in. And to make it even more fun the staff shower hung out over the fault. I was very glad to notice this weekend that particular tiny building was no longer there. Especially since I had had a really bad adventure in that tiny building. It was just a shower stall and a tiny changing area I doubt if it was more than 5 ft wide and 10 ft long, maybe not even that big but it had hot water which was a big luxury in any camp.

One day during mass which I was usually excused from as a non-Catholic I decided it was a prime time to get some shower privacy. I gathered all my things and trotted across the one lane camp road to luxuriate briefly, (there is always a water shortage in CA) in the hot water and quiet of the shower. I got undressed and enjoyed my shower and had turned off the water when I heard a noise and saw the other camp boogie man, a rattlesnake. So I’m stark naked and everyone is in the Chapel down the hill and over a ways. This is not a good feeling. I finally got up the nerve to grab a towel from the peg it was on and retreated back into the shower portion. I was very glad when after several minutes of terror the camp maintenance man and his helper headed to where the tools were kept across the road.

By this time I had given up all pretense to modesty and just wanted that snake away from my bare self. I’m not afraid of snakes at all unless I am starkers in the shower. I can only wonder if because I had been the author of many a snakes demise that this was my Karma coming to haunt me in the worst kind of way. You think about these things when you are trapped stark naked with a rattlesnake. And you wonder how the hell to protect your toes.

But the Maintenance guys got shovels and took care of the invader and I retrieved my clothes and beat it back to A&C. I don’t think I ever took a shower there again. It was a bad episode of Fear Factor.

So this weekend it was kind of fun to finally take pictures of the boogie man and see that it wasn’t so scary anymore. It will still wreck havoc when it finally goes and make a royal mess of the landscape and of human creation but at least I didn’t have any nightmares about falling into it and we were in almost the last cabin before it drops straight down.