Bob Spiwak Monkey MazamaBy Bob Spiwak

It’s a sunny Monday, as July draws to a close. What has happened here in the upper valley over the past 31 days, from triple-digit temperatures to a portion of the biggest wildfire in the history of the state, is certainly memorable.

Sad to report the death of Joan Grant yesterday at her home in Seattle. She and her husband, Bob, had a home in Edelweiss for years. She was a marvelous golfer, had a keen sense of humor and was just plain fun to be around. Regrets to Bob Grant, Martha Cram and her family.

Last Wednesday (July 23) offered a brief period of sunshine in the morning, which by near noon had devolved into a frog-strangling deluge of rain, thunder, lightning and uncharacteristic hail. The hailstones on Rick LeDuc’s windshield as we drove west from Winthrop were at times the size of a dime and rattled his vehicle. This portion of the storm existed from downtown Winthrop for about four miles, then became heavy rain. Very heavy.

However, the lightning and thunder persisted, and a mile or so out of Mazama, Doug Devin and a friend were sitting in his house watching the rain when a bolt of lightning hit a large fir tree just outside the window. It ran down the tree and carved a channel of bare wood down the trunk in the instant it hit.

Some of you are cell phone subscribers to Consumer Cellular, which uses AT&T as the carrier. While in Mazama, even as the power was gone, people on the Verizon roster had cell service, we Consumer Cellularites had none.  OK, during the fire and the power outage it was understandable, although questionable why Verizon was operational.

So on Saturday I called Consumer. I won’t bore you with all that transpired over the hour I spent with the nice woman there, who ultimately shunted my call to AT&T, having discovered there was “a tower down that carries AT&T.”

She did have time to tell me that my senior citizen, big-keyboard phone was being phased out and encouraged me to buy a new one. Before getting me to Ma Bell she advised that the tower that was down was five miles from my home. That would probably be Mazama or Patterson Mountain — she understandably did not know the geographic components, and this led to the AT&T non-versation. A lot of time on hold, transfers to one person or another, and after the hour or so of this pursuit, our reliable CenturyLink recording came on, the monotone recording telling “your call did not go through.” I gave up. For the record, AT&T is still down out here, while in Winthrop, five miles away, there is service. Go figure.

At this time the only real hardships at this end of the valley from the fire have been melted and ruined stuff in freezers after the power went out, and the cost of driving to the coast to buy a generator. We opted not to use one and went through the nine days of no power as a camping trip with our real beds. Beats hell out of a tent at our age.

Tina Judd, wife of Mike from Gold Creek, has told me they have lots of free freezer space for anyone wishing to store perishables. They own Black Dog Meat Shop in Pateros: (509) 670-1738, or