Mountain Views News     Logo: MVNews     Saturday, June 29, 2013

MVNews this week:  Page A:5



Mountain Views-News Saturday, June 29, 2013 

“What’s Going On?” 

News and Views from Joan Schmidt


A chapter from Christopher Nyerges’ book about 
growing up in Pasadena

[Nyerges is the author of “Enter the Forest,” “Self-Sufficient Home,” and other 
books. He teaches regular self-reliance classes and does a weekly podcast on 
Preparedness Radio Network. He can be reached at School of Self-Reliance, 
Box 41834, Eagle Rock, CA 90041, or]


 This past Saturday morning I was driving north on Mayflower Avenue from 
Camino Real. Before I approached Duarte Road, from a distance, I could see 
two police cars with blinking lights and eventually several fire trucks/engines. 
I parked my car and decided to investigate as I noticed LA County Fire Engine 
#169, which serves our M.A.D. area, yet this was the “City” of Monrovia.

 I spoke to the first two fire officials - one was L.A. County Battalion Chief Kaliher - and learned this 
was a “small structure” fire, and under just about extinguished when I arrived. I also saw Monrovia 
Fire Deputy Chief Fabrizio and realized this was a joint effort.

 Monrovia Fire Department Station 102 was the first responder. When I walked over to County Fire 
Truck #169, I was surprised to see Captain Alex Haua, whom I’ve known for over fifteen years! When 
I was on the Town Council, from 1993-2003, the County Fire personnel were usually rotated among 
various stations, so it was a great surprise to see an old friend! Captain Haua said they had been out, 
so they were able to respond quickly and were the second agency to arrive! Arcadia Fire Department 
also was on hand to assist. The whole situation just reinforced the Mutual Aid Agreement between LA 
County Fire Department and the surrounding city agencies. Residents NEED to know there are NO 
BOUNDARIES when emergency situations arise.

 I also spoke with Captain Haua. For County residents, we have Station # 169 on Peck Road in 
El Monte. There are three shifts, A, B and C. During each shift there is a Captain, Engineer and 
Paramedic/Firefighter. We have one fire truck. The Captains are Alex Haua, Larry Burke (He came to 
Annunciation School back in the late 80’s as a Fire Inspector doing the tabletop demonstration for the 
6th, 7th and 8th grades and was awesome!) and newly assigned Captain Glen Crow. When a “MAD” 
county resident dials 911 for a fire, Fire Truck #169 responds from their station on Peck/Hemlock. 
Within five minutes, you will hear more sirens. Paramedics from County Station #167 (Peck/Bryant) 
soon follow. When I spoke to Captain Haua this morning, he told me that earlier this week there was a 
small awning/ brush fire right outside the mobile home park on South Peck Road (County area), and 
Monrovia Fire responded too! T.he two great agencies worked together and put the fire out!

 Los Angeles County Fire Department, Monrovia Fire Department, Arcadia Fire Department. 
Doesn’t matter whose jurisdiction you’re in. ALL provide EXCELLENT service, and because of 
mutual aid, there’s always another agency on hand to assist!

When I was 3 or 4 – I don’t 
recall the exact age except that 
I wasn’t in kindergarten yet – I 
recall waking up in the early 
morning and hearing sounds 
in the kitchen. These were the 
sounds of movement, of pans 
moving, of doors opening and 
closing, the normal sounds 
you’d expect to hear in the 
morning in a kitchen. But the 
only reason I heard any sounds 
so early was that everyone else 
was asleep and the house of five 
boys was relatively quiet. 

 I recall lying there on the lower 
bunk of a bunkbed, wondering 
what I was hearing, and who 
was making the noises. After 
some time, I had the realization 
that we had some witches in 
the kitchen. They came at night 
after everyone went to sleep and 
did whatever witches do in the 
kitchen. They’d disappear by 
the time everyone woke up and 
crawled out of our beds and 
fought our way to the bathroom 
and then made our way to 
the kitchen to have cereal or 
whatever my mother might be 

 When I heard witches in the 
kitchen in the early morning, 
I was always cautious when 
I came to breakfast. I’d look 
around for clues, something left 
on the counter, something out 
of place, some object forgotten. 
There were many clues, but none 
of them that would conclusively 
prove that witches had been in 
the kitchen during the night. 

 Sometimes I would ask 
questions to a brother or 
my mother, attempting to 
determine if they knew about 
it too. But my roundabout 
questions were too indirect to 
get meaningful responses, and 
if anyone else knew about the 
witches, they weren’t talking. I 
began to regard this as a very 
natural thing – witches in the 
kitchen – and barely brought it 
up anymore.

 I could even “see” the witches 
in my mind’s eye when I heard 
them in the early morning. 
They were very traditional-
looking witches, with large 
black robes or gowns, black 
pointy hats, though I don’t 
recall seeing any facial features 
or indication of pretty or ugly, 
or young or old. I knew they 
were female. They moved 
about like gliding from place 
to place, doing secret magic 
alchemy with the ingredients in 
the kitchen and the fire on the 
stove. I could mentally see that 
the kitchen noises came from 
them taking pots out of the 
cupboard, running water, the 
moving from place to place, the 
stirring of things in pots on the 
stove. If they spoke at all, they 
whispered. I pictured them 
doing their early morning tasks 
knowingly, without the need to 
converse among themselves. I 
pictured them expressionless, if 
I saw their faces at all.

 Off and on for a year or 
so, I would hear them in the 
kitchen. I believed that my 
dad knew about them. Some 
of the “clues” to their presence 
would be cupboard doors left 
ajar, spilled salt or sugar on the 
table, odd smells – nothing that 
was absolute proof in itself, but 
all together I knew it added up 
to the mysterious mornings 
in the alchemical chamber 
of our house. In a way, I was 
excited about this secret side 
of our house, and I wondered 
if everyone had witches in the 

 One day, my dad fixed my 
cereal and put in two spoons of 
white sugar. I didn’t stir it so 
the white sugar remained at the 
bottom of the bowl until I was 
nearly done eating. When I got 
to the bottom, though I liked 
the sweetness, I made a point of 
telling my dad how much sugar 
he put in the bowl. 

 “Look at all the sugar,” I said. 
At first, it was no big deal, but 

somehow I knew that the extra 
sugar was my dad’s secret way 
of telling me that he knew about 
the witches. So I repeated to 
him how much sugar was in my 
bowl, what an amazing thing. 
But then my mother walked 
into the room and said “What?”

 “I just gave him a spoonful,” 
said my father defensively.

 “Why did you give him so 
much sugar?” my mother said. 
I don’t think she knew about 
the witches. And, as was her 
custom, she kept asking about 
the sugar and talking about 
it until they were both nearly 
in an argument about it. I 
felt bad about this because I 
actually liked the extra sugar 
and was trying in my way to 
acknowledge the secret message 
about my father’s knowing there 
were witches in the kitchen.

 I never received any more 
secret clues from my dad to 
tell me that he knew about the 
witches, and he never again gave 
me extra sugar.

 Sometime later, while sleeping 
in the lower bunk and with eyes 
closed, I felt something touch 
me, and I knew it was one of 
the witches. She’d actually 
came all the way into my room 
and touched me – not with her 
finger, but with a stick, or magic 
wand. Just a light touch, and 
I could see her clearly – the 
same black outfit and hat as 
they always wore, and this time 
I could see her face. She was 
middle-aged, some wrinkles, 
smiling, resembling one of the 
nuns at Saint Elizabeth school. 
I opened my eyes startled, but 
she had managed to disappear 
before I could catch an open-
eyed glimpse.

 Maybe it had been a goodbye 
touch, since I never heard their 
eerie sounds in the kitchen 
after that. Each time I thought 
it was them, I listened carefully 
and could tell that it was my 
mother or father or my brother 
or someone else. For whatever 
reason, they returned to 
Witchland and never returned.



Foothill Municipal Water District 
(FMWD) will continue to provide 
rebates for high efficiency toilets, 
turf removal and rain barrels 
beginning with the new fiscal 
year, July 1, 2013, announced 
Nina Jazmadarian, General Manager 
of FMWD.

During the previous fiscal year that ended 
June 30, 2013, $30,041 in rebates were 
provided to local residents to support the 
effort to be more independent of imported 
water supplies.

The following rebates are being 
offered to customers within the 
service area.

Residential High Efficiency Toilets - customers 
that replace older high-water use 
toilets with high-efficiency toilets 
can receive a $50 rebate. Only Water-
Sense qualified high-efficiency 
toilets with a capacity of 1.28 
gallons per flush or less qualify for 
rebates. (Check with your water provider 
for additional rebate dollars on selected 

Turf Removal Program- Foothill area 
residents can receive up to $800 
in rebates for removing their 
thirsty lawns and replacing with 
California Friendly plants, 
drought tolerant plants, mulch, or 
pervious hardscape.

Rain Barrels - customers can receive a rebate 
of up to 50% of the cost of a rain barrel up 
to $100, for a maximum of 8 rain barrels by 
capturing stormwater and using it to irrigate 

Please visit the FMWD website at for information on how 
to apply for rebates.

In addition to the above rebates, 
residential customers can receive 
the following rebates through 
Metropolitan Water District of 
Southern California at http://

High Efficiency Clothes Washers 
- a rebate of up to $85 for one washer 
is being offered. Washers must 
have a water factor of 4.0 or less.

Weather-based Irrigation 
Controller- a rebate of $80 for 
less than 1 acre and $25 per station 
for more than 1 acre of irrigation is 
being offered.

Rotating Sprinkler Nozzles - Pop-up 
spray head nozzles can be replaced 
with these low-precipitation rate 
nozzles to help reduce run-off and 
irrigate more efficiently. The rebate 
for nozzles is $4 per nozzle with a 
minimum of 15 per application.

Foothill area commercial and 
industrial customers can receive 
rebates on water conservation 
devices as well. As a member 
agency of the Metropolitan Water 
District of Southern California, 
Foothill’s customers are eligible 
for the Save-a-Buck Program 
which is now operating under the 
SoCalWaterSmart Program. For 
more information, go to http://

Foothill Municipal Water District 
provides imported water to Crescenta 
Valley Water District, La Canada 
Irrigation District, Mesa Crest Water 
Company, Valley Water Company, 
Lincoln Avenue Water Company, Las 
Flores Water Company and Rubio Canon 
Land & Water Association. Kinneloa 
Irrigation District, another retail 
agency, takes no water from Foothill.

 More information can be found on 
the District’s website at www.fmwd.