Applelanch!

I wasn't a huge fan of green apples until I grew my own. These are  very sweet, feel good on your stomach in the morning.

I wasn’t a huge fan of green apples until I grew my own. These are very sweet, feel good on your stomach in the morning.

My husband, like a lot of people, planted fruit trees because of childhood memories – his family in Germany had gardens and orchards in their back yards, and he remembered how much better an apple, or any fruit for that matter, tastes fresh off the tree. 

Me too. My grandmother loved her plums and peaches and apricots, and my grandfather grew walnuts as big as a child’s fist.  That was our lifestyle – growing it, picking it, eating it, setting it aside for winter. Our kitchen was full of fruit all summer, ripening on window sills, stuffed into any jar my grandmother could get ahold of. Our living room rug was always full of nutshells at Thanksgiving time. My grandma put the nut meats into salvaged plastic or cellophane bags, and then wrapped them up with old paper bags and string, and sent them by mail to relatives all over the state. 

By November our persimmon tree would be covered with heavy softball-size fruit. We ate those right off the tree too – you just have to have a taste for the slushy, mushy, native persimmon. We’d slice them in half and eat the pulp. Some people are pretty disgusted, but the taste is beyond sweet – it’s rich. Not everybody can appreciate a fresh persimmon, but, I never met anybody who could turn down a persimmon cookie – I don’t have a tree, and haven’t made those in years. My grandma made the best persimmon cookies around, and when we moved off to the city, she would load them into an empty cereal box and wrap it up with brown bag paper and string, and send it to us. I remember one mail man, smelling the box, asking us what the heck was in there! We had to show him – he said he’d never had anything like that before, what the heck was a persimmon? We thought he was the dumbest man we’d ever encountered. 

But my family never had apples, and my husband was too little to remember anything, so we’ve just been playing it by ear here. Every year we’ve got a few dozen good apples, oftentimes a whole refrigerator bin full, but never anything like this year. The Fuji’s paid off okay, and we’ve got some other little Fuji types coming in, but we have two small trees full of these green apples. 

I was just reading a gardening column, supposedly locally written, saying now’s the time to harvest your peaches? 

My peaches are safely tucked away in my freezer - I set them out on the counter to thaw when I get up and within an hour I can slip the skins right off and put them in my blender.

My peaches are safely tucked away in my freezer – I set them out on the counter to thaw when I get up and within an hour I can slip the skins right off and put them in my blender.

We stripped our peach trees almost a month ago. Something I’ve learned about growing fruit and vegetables – it’s never the same, year to year, you have to learn as you go along, and pay attention. I thought these apples would not come in til later in September, but when I went out there the other day the jays and squirrels were already having at them. So, I take a basket out in the evening and again in the morning and pick what I can carry. I cleaned out the bottom bin in my fridge and I’ll put away as many as I can. I’ve found my garage gets too hot in the afternoon to store fruit very well, so I’ll just keep as many in the fridge as I can and then juice and eat them as fast as I can. The juice keeps great in the freezer, it’s so nice to have so much and not have to be stingy. Store-bought juice is so expensive I feel like I have to dole it out with an eyedropper.  And, it’s hard to find juice at the store that hasn’t had sugar added.

When I went outside this morning, Venus and Jupiter were so bright, they looked like flashlight beams. I watched Venus climb the branches of my neighbor’s old Sequoia, until the rising sun blotted her out. 

Well, another day, let’s see what happens.

 

 

 

The Battle for Chico

I get up early because it takes me so long to wake up. I can’t even imagine jumping up half hour before start time, jamming through the shower and the dressing, eating what? I need my morning. I really like to get as much as I can out of morning.

Today I woke up at 5 am to the sound of Badges barking his alarm. Wednesday and Thursday nights my neighborhood puts out their garbage cans for collection, and as you’d guess, the rats are extra active. I’ve seen them running along phone lines, scurrying across fence tops, and kibitzing on garbage can lids. Every year we have a few of them that try to move in to one of our sheds, and there was a very aggressive fellow who wanted into our garage. He’d just wait along the driveway and run in when we opened the door. After a few good chases, we finally cornered him – what a pack of savages we were, a lacrosse stick, a broom, and then the dogs got the poor little bastard. Yeeeeecccchhh!

We put out traps – best bait, a peanut butter covered raisin. You stick that raisin on there good, and then you smear on the tiniest bit of peanut butter – drives ‘em crazy. We place them on fence posts, or on the high shelf of our little lawnmower shed, where the dogs can’t get at them. One night we were just going back in the house when we heard a loud “WHACK!” and the clattering of planter pots in the shed, and Whoa Nelly, we got a big one that night. 

I had a tenant once whose parents are landlords in Woodland. He called his dad The Rat Man. It just gets compulsive when you are responsible for other people’s living space – you buy traps whenever you see them for a good price (would you believe Safeway sometimes has a real good price on good rat traps), and you are never caught without a box of raisins and a jar of peanut butter. I don’t like my husband using my good peanut butter, so I bought him a jar of cheap crap.

Right now it seems they are running all over our neighborhood. I imagine they are looking for water as much as food. That’s why it’s good to have dogs, they don’t like rats. Badges barks like crazy – Biscuit, she’s the silent killer, like my old boxer Venus, she stalks quietly along the fence while her partner barks his head off. 

And so, I was outside this morning to see the Hunter mount the sky, in all his sparkling glory, every star visible  because the moon has gone down. But when I went into the house for coffee, clouds rolled in. 

I don't know if my camera can catch the incredible purple that I saw in the sky this morning.

I don’t know if my camera can catch the incredible purple that I saw in the sky this morning.

It's hard to capture the glory of nature in a little camera.

It’s hard to capture the glory of nature in a little camera.

But I keep trying.

But I keep trying.

 

I know that if you were too busy to go outside and look up this morning, you missed this. I like to share.

There’s the sun, another morning off and running. I know that if you were too busy to go outside and look up this morning, you missed this. I like to share.

This morning we are off to cut brush in the hills. We help our friends fire-safe their property and they give us the chips that are left over when the chipper crews come in for the brush we cut.   I have been whacking and stacking until my arms are numb. When we were leaving the other day Biscuit charged a little shed and my husband cried out, “there he is!” A big ass rattler was coiled up next to the shed and shaking his rattle like he really meant it. We had thought there was something funny about that shed, she’d been nosing it all morning. (!) The folks up there have been killing a lot of big rattlers lately, and a couple of dogs have been bit. They’d been saved but not for less than $1,000. Our dogs have had their snake shots, but it’s still bad. That motherfucker could have killed my Badges, I don’t mess around.  The idea that my kids would encounter this fellow when they are  out wandering  their little trails around the yard makes my hair stand on end. 

We got the dogs in the car and went to work on that sunnuvabich. He was standing his ground, but he didn’t have any property tax receipts, so we picked up a couple of big rocks and let him have it. Hit him dead on, but he was still coiling for more. So, my husband grabbed our pole saw and got a hold of him in the middle, boy was he fighting. I held that pole saw, and it was all I could do to keep him.  My husband picked up a log that had been acting as a retaining wall on a little trail, and he walloped that snake until that 6 foot section of pine was falling apart. But the mouth just kept moving. 

I hate to kill living things, but I won’t stand for a rattler who moves into people space. They’re not stupid, they know where people are. This was a 10 year old, three foot long rattlesnake, they don’t get that big being stupid. So, I made my peace with that bastard before I dug that saw into his guts and he stopped moving those jaws. I don’t think I’d stand that much chance if he’d got me in the back of the leg. 

I feel the same way toward people who try to interlope in my life. Chico is full of interlopers, people who want to get their snout in our pie here. This election coming up is going to be The Battle for Chico. If you see a snake or a rat, let them have it. 

My Opinion: The world would be a better place if everybody ate more bananas

It is just amazing how my body just keeps running and running, far beyond my own expectations. Sometimes I’m so tired, I just step away and watch myself, like, “oh look at that silly bitch – she better take some aspirin before bed…”

I been trying to enjoy things, homey things. I know cooking is not that fun in Summer, but sometimes I can’t resist. Safeway has had a crazy sale on the nicest, plump little raspberries, and I’ve been buying them whenever I can and freezing them in sandwich bags. The other day I finally decided to enjoy some – I baked them into a batch of banana muffins.

The raspberries in these muffins were puffing like tiny volcanoes when they came out of the oven.

The raspberries in these muffins were puffing like tiny volcanoes when they came out of the oven.

I know, not exactly Summertime food – hot muffins – but I baked them early in the morning and we enjoyed them for two days, well worth the temporary heat. You can put any kind of fruit in your banana muffins – pineapple is pretty outrageous – and nuts and raisins add quite a pick me up as well. These muffins are pretty hearty, especially if you make them with a little whole wheat flour. 

Raspberries, by the way, are loaded with Vitamin C, which is just what you need to stock up on as we head into the school year and our kids start bringing stuff home from school. Meanwhile, bananas have a good portion of potassium and B-6, which are supposed to be good for your muscles and keep you up and running. Both fruits are good sources of fiber, and that’s really the bottom line for me (ha ha, get it? bottom line…). Whenever somebody is an asshole to me for no particular reason I figure they need to take a good whopping dump – Eat A Banana For Goddess’ Sake!

And just in case you don’t care about your health – and who really does these days – these muffins are perfect for a banana split, cut in half, buried under some vanilla ice cream, banana sections, chocolate syrup, whipped cream, etc. Don’t hold back, we’re on the Good Ship Titanic, you might as well have another helping of dessert. 

It’s been pretty hectic around here, nice to sneak into the kitchen for a quick sweet banana muffin. 

 

State of California: Radical Urgency

I notice lately more people are coming to the blog via searches for information about Cal Water and PG&E rate increases. One person submitted this query:“why is PG&E going up 10-15 percent?

You have to read all those notices, they send a rate increase notice several times a year, and each one is different. I keep them, but I don’t have a chance to read every one. One I read asked for a rate hike to recover costs for the disaster in San Bruno.  PG&E was found negligent in that case – they hadn’t been maintaining their infrastructure –  and ordered to upgrade their pipelines. They were also fined up the ass. So, they turned around and asked for a rate increase on all of us to cover their own malfeasance and incompetence. 

Eight human beings were vaporized that day, just cut down without warning, in the “safety”of their homes. BAMMO! You’re dead, because you trusted the government!  35 homes were leveled.  I just saw a story on the bay area news the other night about how PG&E bought up many of those lots and is sitting on them. The weeds grow higher and higher, wrecking next door property values, blighting a whole neighborhood that already has enough bad memories. You’d think they’d done enough damage, but PG&E acts like a big pig, with no human feelings. All they care about is profits for their executive salaries and their shareholder payments.

How do they get away with it? We’re supposed to have a “Public Utilities Commission” to protect us! Forget that. For one thing, the CPU commissioners don’t represent the people or voters of California because they’re appointed by the governor. They represent whoever the Governor represents – again, NOT the voters. Remember Gray Davis – California voters threw that guy out of the governor’s office because of inappropriate relations with the utility companies, campaign contributions from the very corporations that were screwing us for electricity and laughing about it. But we neglected to throw out the CPU commissioner he planted before we tossed him – Michael Peevey, who is now the president of the commission.

In San Bruno, the mayor is calling Peevey out for his inappropriate relations with PG&E after getting ahold of an e-mail Peevey sent PG&E, instructing them on how to fight the fines that the CPUC was about to hand them, for essentially murdering ratepayers in their homes. Wow  –  that’s like your dad instructing you on how to break into the neighbor’s house, and then watching the front driveway while you do it.  

San Bruno isn’t the only place where Peevey is helping the utility companies pull fast ones on the ratepayers – in San Onofre he’s trying to make the ratepayers pay for a disaster at a nuclear plant.  

http://www.sandiegoreader.com/news/2014/jun/17/ticker-armed-papers/

Don’t forget to hit that link to the video in which Peevey absolutely screams for the man to “Shut Up! SHUT UP!” Watch the CHP officers descend on the man, and watch them stop as the man instructs them of his constitutional rights. Watch a real hero people. 

Or watch this, it’s great, I try to watch it a couple of times a year, it’s very uplifting. A plane crashed into the Potomac River, and a bystander couldn’t stand by.  The cops and fire were doing as much as they could, with all their training and their equipment, but that wasn’t enough. It took human intervention:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gmzuPTnBhKE

We citizens have a “radical urgency”. We seem to be going into shock, we can’t act to save ourselves.  Who will be our Lenny Skutnik?

Tell Governor Brown what you think of Peevey and the CPUC fistpuppets (all of whom are past employees of utility companies, or lawyers that worked for them). Below is a website that gives more information, or you can go to the state website. Better yet – write him via snail mail, they love that!

http://residentsorganizedforasafeenvironment.wordpress.com/2014/05/24/action-alert-cpuc-president-michael-peevey/

 

 

 

Hit the road Jack, but be sure to come back

What a week – my family finally did something we see here every year – we drove our kid hours from home and deposited him in a dorm at a college in another town.

Educationally speaking, it’s no big deal. He’s tired of Butte College, and he wanted to get out and see what other people are doing, so he transferred to a tiny community college in Southern California. There are several “satellite campuses,” he chose the one with a snow park nearby, and lots of mountain bike trails.  And, it’s a small school with a small dormitory, most of the students come from the immediate area, from tiny little towns strung along Hwy 395. 

It’s very different from Chico, that’s for sure.  That’s what kids want, they want to see something different than their parents’ back yard. My older son went out and about, decided he likes Chico. He has another semester or so at Butte, then he might actually attend Chico State, we’ll have to see. But he’s pretty sick of school, if there was an engaging job around here that suited his talents, I’m pretty sure he’d drop school like a hot potato. The little one is more stubborn, he’s going to take college to the mat and throttle an education out of the system if he has to break it. 

My gift to the planet – one that simply turns the other cheek, and one that kicks you straight in the balls.  You’re welcome.

The driving was a ball-buster. I don’t drive, cause my husband is one of those guys – I sit folded into the passenger seat like a road map. If we stop and get out, I have a hard time figuring out how to fold myself up and get back in there. I am so stiff right now, I can’t touch my toes. We did have fun.

My husband and I found this tub out in the middle of the desert.

My husband and I found this tub out in the middle of the desert. Just what the doctor ordered after a long drive.

There is a lot of geothermal activity along Hwy 395. We’ve been to several hot springs, some right in rivers or streams (which can be extremely hot and dangerous), and some very nicely developed with long sections of pipe to mix cool and hot water, and nicely made rock and cement tubs. We were lucky enough to run into some guys from the county water district, who directed us to the best tub. This one is used regularly, there’s a plug in the bottom, and somebody comes around often and cleans the scum out of it and refills it. 

We did a lot of sight seeing while our kid was busy with mandatory meetings, fire drills, and filling out his move-in sheet. There are so many incredible physical features, right off the highway a mile or two. We went up to Convict Lake, a beautiful but creepy location known for tragedy.  

This is a tragic place.  I told my son to stay away from here, no matter how good the trout fishing is.

This is a tragic place. I told my son to stay away from here, no matter how good the trout fishing is.

The name the old people used was “Wit-sa-nap.” They say the gods created the lake to protect the creatures that lived in nearby creeks – “water babies,” fish with human heads. I wonder if they are referring to the German browns that inhabit the creeks and the lake. The fish and game department stocks the lake weekly during summer with rainbows for the nearby resort. 

In between meanderings, we went back and forth to help our kid move into his little room, went around town to find the grocery store, the hardware store, etc. He was really excited about an event that had been scheduled just in time for the new students arriving in town – Cam Zink, a well-known mountain bike exhibition rider was to make a very publicized jump for ESPN (I believe they will play it again today on ESPN, or you can see it online at various sites).   They’d been building the ginormous dirt mound jumps at the snowboard park for days, we watched them put the finishing touches on the night we arrived, since we got a cheap room right down the street from the resort. 

Milling around the dirt mounds.

Milling around the dirt mounds.

We went over to the resort Thursday evening, watched the crowd build up to a dull roar.

Folks of all ages came to see what was probably the biggest thing going on for miles.

Folks of all ages came to see what was probably the biggest thing going on for miles.

And dogs...

And dogs…

...of all sizes.

…of all sizes.

My goodness, we waited and we waited. The mountain breeze was starting to pick up, and I didn’t have much of a jacket. The announcer was talking about how the wind would affect the jump.

 

At last, a glimmer of excitement as our rider made his "speed" run toward the jump.

At last, a glimmer of excitement as our rider is carried to the starting point in a quad runner.

Finally we watched him driven (!) to the top of the run in a quad with his bike stowed on the rear. He was wearing very reflective clothing, cause it was getting dark. I couldn’t see worth a darn, so I just held my camera over my head and started snapping.

A rider approaches...will he make it?!

A rider approaches…will he make it?!

I'm sure glad I had the camera because this happened so fast I could not believe I saw it.

I’m sure glad I had the camera because this happened so fast I could not believe I saw it.

And there it was. You know how these things are – the waiting is always longer and almost more exciting than the actual doing.  It was like the best steak I ever had – over so fast I couldn’t remember the taste.  Within minutes the crowd was filing down a tiny single track path to the parking lot, and buzzing up the road past our hotel. The place emptied out before ESPN even interviewed Cam  Zink – when we watched that later in the hotel room, you could see the spectator area was completely vacuumed out. 

Unfortunately, the bar at our hotel was JUMPIN!

Next day we did a few last minute errands, had a soak in the tub again, bade adieu  to our man child and hit the road for Chico.

Ah, the green, green grass of home.

Ah, the green, green grass of home.

Back to the garden, the dogs, the every day rewards of home. 

It's always good to get home.

It’s always good to get back to the garden.

Always good to know somebody is waiting.

Always good to know somebody is waiting.

 

 

 

 

Buon Dia!

Orion is hiding behind this very bright moon.

Orion is hiding behind this very bright moon. It looks like a pinprick of light in this picture, but this moon lit up my bedroom last night.

Biscuit tree’d something at about 4am, and so began my day.  The moon was very bright, the creatures were restless, me too.

I snapped a picture of the moon at about 5:30, and another about 10 minutes later.

The same moon, same sky, about 10 minutes later.

The same moon, same sky, about 10 minutes later.

 

And there’s the proof – time flies. The sun is like our taskmaster - get up, get up! Things to do! I remember how The Duke used to like to say, “We’re burnin’ daylight!” How true!

So, as soon as I got my head on, I realized this was a good opportunity to get the bread done early. Nothing says “Hello There!” like a festering pot of dough.

You'll have to take my word for it when I tell you, this smells so good, like a fresh loaf of bread.

You’ll have to take my word for it when I tell you, this smells so good, like a fresh loaf of bread.

The starter is already excited this time of year, cause the kitchen is already warm. Add yeast, warm water and more flour, and you get a happy little mound.

A new beginning.

A new beginning.

 

And now I can have my smoothie and sit down to read the paper for an hour while that sits in a pot getting even bigger.

A piece of frozen banana, a frozen peach from our trees, one of my husband's weird little melons, and a nectarine I got pretty cheap at Safeway - Buon giorno!

A piece of frozen banana, a frozen peach from our trees, one of my husband’s weird little melons, and a nectarine I got pretty cheap at Safeway – Buon Dia!

 

Look how excited that dough gets in the pot.

Get back Loretto!

Get back Loretto!

 

Time to turn on the oven, while there’s still a cool breeze blowing in the windows. I already forgot what I read in the newspaper, same old hard scrabble, lots of phony promises – the more things Change!, the more they stay the same.  Meet the new boss, and all that.

Every loaf is like another day - somehow different, but somehow the same.

Every loaf is like another day – somehow the same, but somehow, very different.

 

Well, off and running.

 

 

 

Growing pains

Toss some almonds and a few cloves of garlic with a tablespoon or so of olive oil, spread then out on a baking sheet and leave them in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Toss some almonds and a few cloves of garlic with a tablespoon or so of olive oil and a dash of salt, spread then out on a baking sheet and leave them in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.

 

Yeah, Summer’s on the way out. You’ll notice the days are shorter, quite noticeably, and the hot part of the day doesn’t sink in as good or last as long. The mornings are more pleasant, time to get some cooking done early.

This morning I realized I need to hurry up and eat the rest of the nuts I have from last year, the new crop is coming in fast. I roasted a cup or so with garlic, oil and salt, and I’ll dry roast the rest (20 minutes on 200). The garlic will add a good zap to my salads, the nuts are nice for a snack or also chopped up on salad. 

My kids are grown up, the last of my wee biddies is scheduled to leave the nest in a few days. Instead of getting drunk and listening to a loop tape of “Simple Man”, I  have to rethink the way I do things. I realized, I don’t need a gallon of milk anymore, I don’t need to cook big batches of so many things. There won’t be so much laundry, the dishwasher won’t fill up so fast – after all these years feeling like Wishbone on Rawhide, I’m not sure what I will find to fill up all the extra hours.

We'll be getting more meals out of a tri-tip now that my son is headed off to college. Here's one of my faves -  tri-tip and beans on a homemade corn tortilla. This time we fried it in oil instead of dry, makes it crispy around the edges.

We’ll be getting more meals out of a tri-tip now that my son is headed off to college. Here’s one of my faves – tri-tip and beans on a homemade corn tortilla. This time we fried the tortilla in oil instead of dry, makes it crispy.

 

It’s been a lazy Summer, compared to school time anyway. I’ve almost got over the compulsion to wake my son early – DON’T BE LATE! GET UP AND EAT! It’s been nice this last month, we’ve been doing things my son wanted to do before he set out on his own. Alone away from home the first time – I know he is both excited and a little anxious, at different times. Several of his friends have already been off to their first year away from home, others have been with him at Butte College, and plan to stay here. Some of those who went off have been woefully disappointed and come home, glad to be here. Others have adapted. We’ve watched the other parents go through their stresses, and now we send ours off with all their best wishes. It’s good to have co-parents. 

I don’t want to have a big empty nest, so my husband and I are downsizing. I’ll keep you posted.