Excavating the Loo

As I sit here drenched in sweat, my leather workman gloves soaked through, I contemplate the fact that I just spent the entire morning excavating the commode.

It’s early May and after our last failed attempt to stay at the cabin that ended in the complete disintegration of my very expensive new door, the power being out, and a snowdrift in the mudroom that came up to the top of the compost toilet, it was beyond being Januburied anymore since now it was March!



As a couple months flew by and we drifted from April into May, the spring temperatures warmed the town and reports were in that the lower elevations were free of snow.  I was positive that the cabin would be well on its way to shedding its igloo coat and a piece of cake to get into.

People are sometimes excruciatingly wrong.


As I sludged past the neighbors cabins that faces were mostly exposed I got my first glimpse of my front picture windows that were still almost completely hidden by a massive snow bank, the back of the cabin encased in a white icy drift up and over the roof.  The door that we had patched together was still mostly in place and thankfully no bears or people were living in the snowy mudroom.  One small relief in an avalanche of disappointment.

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The door crest was peeking out so I rejoiced in the ease I had unlocking the gold padlock holding the door partially closed.  This joy was short lived as I almost impaled myself on a broken limb of said door as I slid into the ice skating rink that was now the mudroom.  The Omen, Carrie, and several other horrors flashed across my over imaginative brain as I realized how close I had come to, while not being eaten by bears or wild dogs, or sautéed by the prom queen, bleeding to death in an undignified position proving to all the world as they read my obituary what a massive klutz I was!


As I had skidded in and survived the wooden spike of death, I also managed to climb my way over the frozen and icy toilet to get to the spot that I prayed I had a hidden key.  A key I had left for the phone company in February when they were supposed to reconnect my phone line.  (I don’t have to tell you this never happened.)  I had lost my entire set of house and cabin keys on a hike at Malibu Creek State Park a month before and it was going to be an awful drudge back to the car if the spare wasn’t still in it’s clever hiding place.  Luckily it was right where I thought it was.

Whew!  The door had held, there were no bears living in the mudroom, I had a key to get in, now if only the power was on.

It wasn’t.

I had chatted with the power company a couple weeks back and they confirmed that the power was connected and most likely I just needed to reset my breakers.

Easy peasy, right?

Except the breakers were outside in the back corner of the cabin that was currently still covered by at least 10 feet of snow.  Sigh.


This reminded me of the cartoon from the S- Town podcast where there are 3 drinking glasses lined up, one proclaiming “I’m half Full”, the next “I’m half Empty”, and the next “I think this is Piss”.  Well I think this is piss.

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After weighing the pros and cons of wielding a saw versus removing the wood spike of death from the door I decided in the icy, slippery condition the snow steps were in it was twice as likely that I would impale myself flying into the cabin than severing an artery with the saw.  I reviewed every “I’m alone” safety procedure I could think of and quickly put the wood spike of death into it’s grave with Final Destination, Saw, and A Cabin In The Woods where it belonged.

I had managed to get some of the windows slightly dug out to allow some light into the cabin so first order of business now that immediate death was off the table was seeing what non-powered illumination devices I had handy.

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I dug out candles, refilled lanterns, got my headlamp, and flashlight all ready to go.  On a whim I tested the stove.  By some non-logical miracle it worked!  The good luck continued when the wall heaters all turned on.  With my main concerns of food, light, and warmth being covered and me not having suffered a bloody death I moved on to opening a bottle of rose and getting this business cozzzy!


Who knew power really wasn’t as big of a deal as I thought?  It was like camping indoors.

I had already experienced the cabin for a winter season without water, then this season the phone line had gone out fairly early, so I added no phone to that list, and now no power.  As my neighbor had succinctly informed me when I messaged him very frustrated after the last trip up “ We can’t beat Mother Nature”.   We may not be able to beat it but we sure can join it!

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It’s interesting how when you start stripping away all those creature comforts and expectations how much you can do without.  I love watching shows about the apocalypse.  The Walking Dead, Day After Tomorrow, Deep Impact, Melancholia, The Road, you start to wonder what would you do in that situation.  Would you be a survivor?  Would you learn to adapt?  Do you have the skills necessary to live off the grid?  As I type this on my computer that is slowing losing power which I can’t recharge until I go into town tomorrow, I wonder those same things….


While I feel hardship wouldn’t bother me too much as I relish challenges and seem to enjoy masochistic manual labor, it’s the alone part that would trouble me.

Having been mugged multiple times I have realized the fear of people (and small rodents trapped in the cabin with me) is the one thing that always drives me back to Los Angeles.    (That and the desperate need for a shower!)

Just today I was out for a long walk on the loop trail in town and ran across two men in a deserted section of the trail. My heart started racing and fear enveloped me. I always make it a point to look people in the eye when I am afraid or feel threatened and say hello, which is what they teach you in self defense classes.  What bothers me is that is always my reaction.  Then a panicked departure.

Today I went out of my way to take a trail that lead into town that looped me further from my car in the growing wind, but the panic was so high I couldn’t help myself.

I often wonder what life would be like if the universe would just take back ONE of those muggings.  Would I feel more sane and in control when I’m alone?


The cabin is definitely a test of my physical strength and endurance but also of my mental ability to look this fear in the eye and try to make sense of it and take command of my terror.

I did however sleep like the full dead last night not walking, the fear of being alone was buried under the weight of sheer exhaustion.

As I had no power I slept on my favorite cot in front of the fire.  The bedroom while not having any wall heaters also smelled like a pack of wet dogs since it had spent so much time under the dome of snow coating the roofs, windows, and walls.

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I awoke to the vibration of a small earthquake rumbling under the cot.  It was morning.  I had a date with a cup of coffee and several snow removal chores.

Which is how I find myself excavating the loo.

After spending the previous afternoon and evening peeing with my knees encased around my ears, I decided the first order of “business” if I may was digging out the god damned toilet.  (In my head this is in the voice of Samual Jackson in Pulp Fiction.)

As I knelt sweating with a shovel breaking up large boulders of ice and then using my leather encased hands to sweep out the snow around the delicate mechanics of the toilet I felt a kinship with Indiana Jones.  As he swept out fine grains of sands from the tombs of ancient kings, here I was on my hands and knees digging out a different kind of throne altogether.


Zombie apocalypse?  I have a feeling I’d do just fine.






5 thoughts on “Excavating the Loo

  1. I have the same fear of people and a vivid imagination that loves to go wild. Never a good combination when out in the middle of nowhere. Way to survive!!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I Know it’s hard when there is so much snow, but its so special. To me it’s one of the best times to go and be at the cabin. I am delighted to know you go up to the cabin at the difficult times. Your a true “Mountain Woman”! Good for you!


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