The “crime wave” hits my hood

Yeah, something’s out there in my neighborhood, and it doesn’t wait for the cover of dark. At about 5:30 last night, a car parked at my neighbor’s house, just east of the Evangelistic Free Church on Filbert Ave, was broken into and her purse stolen.   

Now, I know – don’t leave your damned purse on the front seat, how many times do we have to tell you girls! And you men need to stop leaving your Ipods and cell phones. It isn’t uncommon for these items to be stolen out of parked cars in Upper Park or later at night in the college neighborhoods.  But, this is a first for my neighborhood. I can’t help but  wonder if the culprit (s) is already watching me and my neighbors, casing the joint! 

 It was still very light outside, the neighbor across the street saw the whole thing – but said later she didn’t see him break in, she just thought he was retrieving something out of his own car. How would she know, it was a strange car too. Several days a week, the church, despite their enormous and underused parking lot, floods our neighborhood with cars. I guess I better tell somebody down at the church – their parishioners might just be sitting ducks. 

When my neighbor called Chico PD they refused to come. They said they needed a witness. Wow, she called minutes after it happened, they could have got the guy wandering down the street. A few minutes later, she talked to the other neighbor who had seen it, and called the cops again. They came out, but my husband and I saw the way the cops sped up our street, well past the 25 mph limit. He wasn’t sticking around to check out the neighborhood, he was mad that he even had to come.

My neighbor was good to get out in the street and let us all know what happened. My husband and I had literally just missed it – we’d gone out on our bike for about 30 minutes, and she was just sweeping up the broken glass and the cop leadfooting it away when we came home. I think today I’ll type up a little note with the facts and put it in mailboxes for a block or two around the neighborhood. I hate to think – we’re all sitting ducks with a police department that is too lazy to do their job.  

So, just when you think your neighborhood is immune, you need to look for an older, poorly dressed gentleman with a “bowl cut”. 

Something in the night

Even at a fraction of itself, this is a bright moon. It's easier to get a picture at this reduced size, especially with these nice reflective clouds.

Even at a fraction of itself, this is a bright moon. It’s easier to get a picture at this reduced size, especially with these nice reflective clouds.

The moon has made the animals more active at night, my dogs are so frisky when I get up in the morning I can hardly stay out of their way.  

One evening a couple of weeks ago my husband and I were bicycling home through lower Bidwell Park, when we saw a brown streak in that meadow off Bryant Ave. My husband remarked that it was the same color as deer but lower to the ground and ran different. He opined cougar, I agreed. Something has had my hair standing on end in the park lately, I felt it. And, my grandpa told me, wherever you see deer you have to be aware of cougar. His family had come from “Missourah,” so he called it, “puma.” 

When we were little, my grandfather had a permit to haul gravel out of the Sacramento River at Princeton, which he would deliver by the truckload to people for their driveways. He kept a little tractor down in the woods behind the levee at Princeton, and we’d go down there with him when he had an order to fill. He’d always be on pins and needles, there’s so much trouble for children to get into down at the river. If we wandered out of his sight he’d jump off that tractor and come and cuss at us – “You got-damn kids, get back to the got-damn truck!” We knew he wasn’t mad, but we didn’t understand why he’d get so upset. Until one day, he came after us, white faced, out of breath, and took us back to a spot near the truck – “puma!” he shouted, in his funny high pitched voice, as he pointed at the big dog-looking tracks. Then he showed us – no toe nails. Dogs don’t get that big, he said, and they leave toe nails. He took us back and made us get into the truck, and I don’t remember if we ever went with him again down there.

Sure, cougar is beautiful, a symbol of the free west – but he’ll eat your six-year-old just as soon as he’d eat your poodle or your tabby. I’m glad I don’t have small children anymore, but I worry about my kids cycling through the park – I still remember that cat down south who made off with two mountain bikers before he was killed. He’d cached a full-grown man in the bushes, and was observed taking a woman off her bike. Another woman pursued and was able to rescue the first woman, but the cat had mauled her head, I don’t know what ever happened to her.  A cat in Placer County killed and cached a woman jogger, leaving her mauled body partially buried along a popular running trail. The authorities thought she was the victim of a crazed human killer, until they brought in a forensic expert who identified teeth and claw marks. 

As usual, I think the authorities are ignoring a serious situation – wow, Ann Schwab was all over the bag ban. Now she’s admittedly heard a cougar growling in lower park – is she going to wait until it attacks somebody’s six year old kid in broad daylight before she does anything about it? At the very least, the city should have huge signs, with big block letters, telling outsiders or people who have not heard, there’s a big kitty in the park, they need to be aware of their surroundings and who or what is in them at all times. The Sheriff’s and Police Departments should be making a bigger presence – ought to give them the opportunity to roust some illegal camps as well. More loud human activity, including trained dogs, in the park would make it a less attractive hunting ground for the big kitty.

No, I don’t particularly want a hunting, but a team of cops, fire and volunteers could phalanx the creek one evening and try to drive the cat out of Lower Park, with Fish and Game (or whatever they’re calling themselves these days) manning the roads directly around the park. I don’t see that happening, given the sour relations between our police and fire. I’ve never seen either agency put forth any kind of community effort either. 

One bright note – maybe the big kitty will get my neighbor’s chickens. I can dream. 

Oh shut up Girls, I’m only joking!






Problem solved – maybe…for now…we’ll see

Well, I think we solved the fly problem without a nuclear meltdown, for now anyway.  We went out and bought new flyswatters – the old ones being pretty beat to death – and we also bought half dozen of those bag fly traps. They smell like a dead animal, and wow, the flies come buzzin’.  We hung one on the fence between our yard and the chicken coop, just out of the dogs’ reach. The effects were immediate. 

I had no idea how bad this infestation really was until we went out the next morning and checked the fly trap.  A literal cloud of flies was hanging around the trap, and there were quite a few already dead or still buzzing around inside, trying to escape. No, surprisingly enough, I felt no pity. 

What I like about these traps, they only trap flies. The more expensive but stink-free pheromone sticky strips bring in everything but over flying planes – even butterflies are attracted to the smell of SEX! That was too creepy for me, we went back to the stink traps. Yeah, they stink, but wow, do they ever work. 

It was getting so bad on the porch, we started to notice another infestation – black widows were popping up in potted plants, beneath the dog bed, and up in the eaves of the porch. We went out late the other night, and one gal was perched in a messy web right over my yard boots. I love black widows, but not in my living space. We killed about eight when we swept the porch next day. Flies bring widows like sailors bring hookers.

Yesterday, like some kind of miracle – only one fly spotted on the porch, and NONE in the house!  God bless Black Flag.  I’ll include the punk band on that.

Backyard chicken farmers – please clean your backyard, your flies are getting ready to carry my house away!

My family has owned the property I currently live on for about 15 years. In that time we’ve had some interesting  neighbors, some bad neighbors, and a couple of really wonderful neighbors who have become more like friends. 

And then Richard and Leslie moved in. They bought the almost two acres next door from our old friend, Armed with a Fireplace. AWF had kept the place pretty natural. He had a nice vegetable garden with fruit trees planted directly behind his house, planting redwoods and nurturing oaks in his back acre, where he thought at one time he’d like to build a new house to replace the old junker up front. But, he and his wife decided, not just Chico, but California was getting a little too weird for them, and they  sold to this yuppie couple, a pair of Chico State professors. 

When our realtor friend  tried to introduce them to us, they wouldn’t come over to the fence, they acted as though they were embroiled in conversation. So, our dogs don’t like them, and we had to build a cedar fence to stop Biscuit from literally hounding them every time they walked behind  our house. That quieted things down, until one afternoon I see Richard with his broken down rototiller throwing up clouds of dust over my fence into my laundry. They also like to mow after noon on a good 96 – 100+ day, after they’ve let their weeds get good and high and brown, throwing “fugitive dust” into my property, which is a code violation. 

I’d already asked them to stop doing that, asked them to do it before 10am. I told them the dust was definitely a problem, but I also told them, there’s a guy from Tehama County in the federal pen for putting away a hot lawnmower that caused a huge fire,  millions in property  damage. I pointed at their fence line and reminded Richard he’d be endangering all these houses. He just stared at me for a second, then turned and walked  into the house.

I thought, well, there I’ve done it, the neighbors hate me. But one day when I was hanging laundry in my string bikini,  I hear Richard calling me over to the fence. Yeah, 50 year old woman in a bikini – no, I don’t feel comfortable talking to a strange man who  calls over my fence when I’m half naked, call me a prude.  But I walked over there and just tried to pretend  I was wearing a pair of Dickie  cover-alls. He was standing behind the brand  new cedar fence we’d bought and installed ourselves, not offering me a dime to pay for it – instead he’s asking if he can have the old iron posts that were left from the  old fence. My husband had left them because we didn’t put them there, and he didn’t feel comfortable taking them. I wanted to say, “No, and if I catch you with a finger on those posts I’ll hit you so hard they’ll stop  you in Ham City for speeding!” But I didn’t, I said, “sure, that sounds great!” And when he kept yakking at me, getting more and more excited about “re-purposing,” I just stood there pretending I wasn’t uncomfortable as Hell. Luckily Biscuit noticed what was going on and came over to end the conversation.

Things went kind of smooth for a while, then one day, we see a guy bringing a full size, brand new tractor into their back yard. My husband has a tiny tractor with a rototiller attachment – that’s all we need  for our incredible garden. This guy needs a full-size tractor, bigger than the one my grandfather used for his five acres of fruit and truck garden. The noise, the smell of diesel – I shouldn’t have to put up with stuff like that on my subdivision lot well into the city boundaries. But, we didn’t say anything, we just shut our windows and sat in shock while he used that thing for two weeks. It was obvious he didn’t know what he was doing, and he almost burned the damned thing up trying to pull out an old stump. Finally the man came back and took the tractor – we were relieved that it went before I just had to jump the fence and drive that sucker right through his house.

No, I don’t like these neighbors. First they snubbed me, then they started being a nuisance. Now, it’s chickens. 

They brought the chickens in almost a year ago. They had them in a pen the other side of their house, so I didn’t pay attention.  One day a few months later, my husband  was talking to Richard, who seemed distraught – “something” had  “murdered” his chickens, he was near tears, which is tough to watch in a 30-something year old man. My husband told him, we have a lot of raccoon around here – one fellow that comes into our yard almost weekly to take a big dump in the same spot near our old cedar tree – for years! We also have regular visits from skunk and opossum, likely culprits. And my husband and I have seen fox in the park many times, there’s one heck of a chicken killer there!

My husband couldn’t get over the notion that Richard was accusing our dogs! Better he accuse me, the dogs could give a shit about his stupid chickens. Him, yeah, they’d like to make steaks out of his butt, but they have absolutely no interest in his stupid  chickens. 

So, we quit talking to Richard. He seemed weird and hostile, always complaining, when we put up with shit from him constantly.  Then one day, we notice he’s got more chickens, and they’re so close we can smell ammonia and wet hay.   Then one morning we see he’s setting them up on our fence line, which is illegal.  They are supposed to be 20 feet from your neighbor’s property line, and no using fences as the outside wall of the coop. I realized, he hadn’t even bothered to check the code. My husband went right to their door, told Richard about the code. Richard complained that that would be difficult, but my husband pointed  out – the spot he’d  had them in closer to his own house was perfectly legal. Richard was very unhappy about it, but we told him, the smell was bad, and we were worried about flies. 

So, he placed the birds across the lot, illegally close to  the other neighbors,  and now within my sight. On  a hot day I can smell  ammonia coming in my windows. See, the problem is, he NEVER  cleans the coop. He’s just got this little house set up with some chicken wire strung around it – I don’t even think he’s provided the legal amount of space for the number of chickens he’s got there, but whatever. I’m so sick of this guy, I’d almost like to go out and trap that fox in the park and  set it loose in his fucking chicken coop. 

Meanwhile, the lovely but icey Leslie has just had a baby. Great. This seems to be Richard’s cue to go on trips out of town!  When Richard is gone for days at a time, she comes out in the wee hours, sometimes toting her new noisemaker,  to feed the birds, but has no other contact with them. They sit shitting in that pen, and nobody ever cleans it up. They don’t even put down straw, they just fill the grain bin once a day, check the water, I assume, and throw old rotten vegetable from their oversized truck garden on the ground in the pen.

I  read up on chickens. The first concern is keeping  them clean, for their own good, so they don’t end up with “flystrike” – a condition where flies lay eggs in the poop stuck to chicken’s feathers and skin, and then the maggots hatch out and start eating the chicken”

When I saw this, I realized, it’s more than my discomfort here, the chickens could be suffering horrible disgusting conditions. There’s all kind of parasites that take advantage of neglected chickens who are kept in a tiny space made to live in their own excrement.

I found this great website – The Chicken Chick – a woman in Connecticut who is really serious about keeping healthy chickens. Ironically, she is being sued by the town she lives in to give up her chickens. I don’t get that, she has a huge clean place, cleans  her pens daily, keeps good bedding, and even digs out the area under her coops once a year. One neighbor and a code enforcement officer are being accused of harassing this gal – so, I’m almost afraid  to say anything to Richard and Leslie. I know how I’d look.

Meanwhile, they don’t even get eggs, while I can’t feed my dogs on our front porch, on the other side of our house, because the flies swarm in and attack us. It’s just been  getting worse and worse as the summer has gotten drier and drier. 

Now they’re getting in the front door of our apartment all the time. I just want to wring Richard’s neck. Now that his woman has a baby, he spends even less time tending to his chickens. I can only hope there’s a hard freeze this year and they all drop dead.

I don’t hate chickens, for the record, I hate people who mistreat animals and I hate bad neighbors. I really don’t believe chickens have any business in a city subdivision, but the city of Chico has actually relaxed the code for chickens, allowing almost anybody in town  to have them. Scott Gruendl laughed about one of his Doe Mill neighbors keeping chickens – apparently the back gate was oftentimes left ajar, and chickens would be wandering the neighborhood. Gruendl said once when he’d gone over to see what was going on, he encountered a backyard devoid of any green living thing, “just chicken poop everywhere…”

That’s a health hazard, a code violation – allowing animal feces to cover the ground in your backyard, a backyard in which the wall  of your neighbor’s house serves as one section the fence? But Scott just laughed about it and  voted to allow backyard chickens on just about any size lot in town. Go figure. 

Hey, if any of you know Richard and Leslie, please tell them to pick up the chicken shit in their backyard. 





Bidwell Bump Saturday – get ready to ROCK!

The moon is almost half gone but still so bright it looks like somebody left a porch light on. Orion is glittering like a diamond necklace, Betelgeuse is red and shining. The sky looks so clean, until the sun comes up, and you can see the airborne dirt from the various harvest operations west of town. Get ready for rice harvest.

Tomorrow’s the Bidwell Bump, a series of mountain bike races over various trails in Upper Park. It starts at the Cross, and it’s a real rush to watch them hump that hill. My kid isn’t riding this year, but we’ll probably run over there to see what Marty Crosley is up to. Marty went to high school with my husband, he was a riot as a kid, and still is. Watching Marty make those turns, the wild grin on his face – it’s Old Skool!

And, I understand Forough Molina is part of the organization that puts this race together, so I’ll be looking for her. I would like to hear from her what a publicly pensioned candidate intends to do to bring pensions under control. I’m also going to ask if she intends to take the city’s health package or the cash in lieu. Our councilors are given their choice of health packages, ranging from about $8,000/year to about $21,000/year. They pay two percent of their nominal $6 – 9,000 salaries for these policies. I’m not sure if they get the same offer as other city employees – if a city employee already has a better insurance policy than the ones offered by the city, the city gives them a cash payment in lieu of the standard city policy. This is something I’d like to see taken out of the contracts, but fat chances of an ice cube in Hell folks.  I’ll try to ask Molina about that, if I can get a minute of her time.




Quick – go outside and look at the moon!

I'm sorry this is the best I could do with my little digi-cam - the moon was huge and very red this morning.

I’m sorry this is the best I could do with my little digi-cam – the moon was huge and very red this morning.


When I get up in the morning, the first noise I make, which is probably cursing, I can hear my dogs get off their big bed on the patio and come scratching to the door for attention. It’s just rude to ignore dogs, they’re totally social, and it’s a real rude snub not to greet your dogs first thing you wake up. It disgusts me to think of the time many dogs spend completely alone, waiting for somebody who’s  hardly worth their affection.

So, no matter that I am hardly ambulatory, no matter there’s a flight of stairs between me and them, I fight my way out of my comfort zone and waddle out there to say Hi. As soon as I’m touching their filthy coats, I’m glad I came. We walk out into the darkness toward our little fruit trees, trying not to stumble in a gopher hole or get a shoe full of stickers.  

And then I turn around and come face to face with the MOOOOOOON! Holy Harvest Batmom! It’s HUUUUUUGE! And it’s redder than a hooker’s porchlight! I tried to get a picture – all I got was a little pinprick. But you can sort of see the red color. Sorry, I’m no Larry Leigh!!i=3496049441&k=3KV7kqr

They say this moon is so big and red because it has come rolling in so close to Earth – I don’t think close enough to side swipe, but I wonder what the tides are looking like right now? It’s gorgeous, I hope you’ll get out there before the sun comes along and steals the show. 

Some people call this the Harvest Moon, some call it the Hunter’s Moon – that makes sense.   In the old days, before “hunting season,” a farmer could bag himself a few birds before he set off to harvest.



Chico is changing

Well, there is no way to find out if something works like quitting doing that thing. I  ran out of goat milk, and made my yogurt with cow’s milk, and now I’m sorry! I’ve had the worst stomach ache over the last few days, and here comes that itchy rash again! 

Oh well, it’s nice to know, the extra money and the goat breath were actually worth the trouble. Yeah, my husband had gotten in into the habit of kinda homing in on me when he gave me a kiss, like he was trying to avoid some interloper. Baaaa-aaaa.  Off to Walmart tomorrow to get me a carton of goat milk.

Nothing wakes you up like a stomach ache. I’m tired. Got new tenants coming in, I have to spend the next week dusting walls and ceilings, flipping switches, running faucets, flushing toilets, make sure everything is clean and working. You’ve had those weeks – I just have to make it til Friday, and then I can sit down and put check marks next to a whole list of tedious chores, thankyouverymuch.  I expect my body to collapse like an old lawn chair.

When I try to imagine the world beyond Friday, I see leaves to rake, gutters to clean, garden to clear. My husband already turned off most of the water to our vegetable patch, the plants were brown practically the next day. We notice, the only green tree in our back acre is the one that stands in our late tomato patch. The others are fading fast, oaks leaves are covering everything. 

Last night we thought about riding our bike over to watch the Palio, but that hardly seemed worth an effort to get the bike out of the garage. I am glad to see that event is completely without public funding –  looks like the Nature Center is going to squeak by as well. They cried poormouth when the city discontinued their welfare payments, both directors fearing they would not be able to pay their own salaries – nothing motivates a trough dweller like the thought of being cut off their sweet teat. They got out and pandered to the public,  and got enough money to keep on going. That’s really sad – the main job of these “directors” – who used to be volunteers – is barking up donations for their own salaries, making threats to close publicly-owned facilities if they don’t get what they want. Sad times folks.

Chico seems weird lately. Not sure what will happen in the next election, but things will not be the same around here.