I've been singing Tucson's virtues lately, as I always do during the Monsoon. But even now, all is not bliss. In addition to having to cope with a demographic I will respectfully refer to as the "amphetamine challenged," there are plenty of pests to contend with. Pack rats, for instance. As I was driving down Oracle a little while ago in Old Red, I perceived an out-of-context odor. I struggled to place it, but my mind kept wandering to thoughts of the pesto I'll be able to make if I get a few more basil plants for the empty pots on the side of the house. And then I realized that the car smelled the way the frying pan does when I'm toasting pine nuts preparatory to adding them to the electronic pestle. Worried that I might be showing signs of a brain tumor -- if inappropriate whiffs of orange are a sign, why not inappropriate whiffs of pignoli? -- I pulled over at the first opportunity to think. Then, worried that the car might be leaking coolant, I opened the hood.Guess what? Hundreds of mesquite bean pods came tumbling out of the space between the hood and the engine. Yes, I was smelling the results of our resident "packratatouille." I'd try to use lights and sound in the front yard to drive it away, but we have a mommy bird sitting on a nest in the bougainvillea alongside the driveway that I'm reluctant to disturb. Maybe I can procure a very small cat to install inside the engine compartment. Meanwhile, I'll be pondering the possibility of using the copious harvest of the mesquite trees, which I spend hours each week pruning, for culinary ends. Anyone want to come over for Southwestern pesto next year? If I'm lucky, I might even be able to serve ratón asado to accompany it. In that case, I'll be sure to invite the colleague who, upon learning that pack rats had eaten the $1000 worth of new rubber parts we'd just had installed in our car, did not express sympathy for our plight -- we'd just moved to Tucson and were particularly impecunious -- but merely remarked, "They were here long before we were." I'm sure. That does not, however, stop me from wishing that they would befoul the insides of someone's Hummer instead of our humble VW. Nor does it prevent me from wishing, in retrospect, that I'd answered my colleague's sage advice by quoting the words of my high school headmaster from my high school yearbook page: "Thanks for your support; I'll remember it in the future."