National Heirloom Expo, Santa Rosa CA, September 8 – 10

Vegetables Flowers Seed Collection Herbs Merchandise Festivals Store About

The National Heirloom Expo

IMG_1534With the heirloom expo quickly approaching September, 8th-10th in Santa Rosa, CA a passionate group of pure food heroes are joining forces to make this years event better than ever! Featuring the world’s largest heirloom vegetable display, GMO education, educational gardening workhops, world renowned speakers, authors, and filmakers. This event brings together over 30,000 like minded gardeners, farmers, and concerned citizens in one unifying event surrounding pure food. Come sample over 100 varities of heirloom watermelons, including our top 5 award winners, and gaze at our brilliant display of squash from around the world. These rare open-pollinated vegetables and fruit are locally harvested from our field trials in Esparto California. Time is running out so dont miss your opportunity to attend this incredible event and join hands with the pure food revolution! Get your tickets now or visit our website at


1350 Bennet Valley Rd 

Santa Rosa, CA  95404

Call for Volunteers

If you would like to volunteer and get free tickets to the expo please contact us


Help us promote this incredible event!Below is a link to some photos from last years Heirloom Expo. Please share one or all of them anywhere you can and tell all your friends and family about the upcoming event!

Look, it’s Super Moon!

The moon has lit up the sky the last few nights.

Super Moon has lit up the sky the last few nights.

I’m sorry my little camera can’t do justice to the enormous, bright moon we’ve had the last few nights. I took these photos two nights ago, as  Super Moon mounted the sky.

Super Moon is defined as “… a new or full moon which occurs with the moon at or near (within 90% of) its closest approach to Earth in a given orbit.”

I knew it wasn’t just my imagination. It has been so bright, and each night coming up a little later – at 5am it still lit my bedroom like a torch. 

Here’s an interesting article from

There's something about a moon like this that makes the house look cozy and safe.

Super Moon shines through every window in the house. 


A perfect sea for a little wooden shoe boat.

Wynken, Blynken and Nod one night sailed off in a wooden shoe – sailed on a river of crystal light, into a sea of dew…

I wonder if Eugene Field was inspired by a Super Moon. 




What are people thinking about?

I notice when I look at the “dashboard” of the blog, people come here looking for “opt-out” information for various junk mailers more than anything else.  I get searches for this information almost every day.  “Market Value Place”, the newspaper style ad supplement that is stuffed into mailboxes every Wednesday, continues to be the Number 1 junk mailer that people want to opt-out of. 

I’m glad to say, a quick and polite note to Jenny Jurdana at the Chico Enterprise Record ( was all it took to get MVP out of my mailbox when it started to appear again a few weeks ago.  The Enterprise Record prints and distributes the Chico edition of MVP, promising their advertisers “total market saturation” by running their ads in the newspaper for subscribers and then sending MVP around once a week to everybody in town who does not subscribe to the Enterprise Record. So, be sure to e-mail Ms. Jurdana and get your name off the list, it’s worth the five minutes or less it takes to send the e-mail. 

Killing your lawn is another popular topic. I’ve been working on a big, hot sunny stretch of my yard, and boy is it dead. It’s not moving too fast because I’m busy with other chores and other things I need to spend money on besides bark. I wish sometimes I had gone through the trouble to go with Cal Water and get a rebate, but I’m convinced I would have had to spend a lot more money to get them to kick in, and I can’t justify the expense right now. So, I’m just letting sections die, and going about rehabilitation as I get to it. My yard looks shabby, but it’s getting better! 

In shady areas, I’ve decided to rehabilitate the grass. In those sections we don’t get so many of the sticker weeds. Sticker weeds seem to thrive in that hot burning sun, on nothing but moisture in the air, apparently. I get barrel clover plants bigger around than a serving platter in spots where the ground is so hot and hard you’d be tempted to fry an egg. But in shady areas I notice, the grass just dies and leaves dirt, which turns into dust and gets all over everything by way of the dogs. Dust is maybe not as bad as stickers, maybe, but I am tired of breathing it, and I’m not looking forward to having it as mud everywhere in Winter.  So, today I started watering those areas, raking up the leaves and debris. I’ll put them on a watering schedule and watch how fast the crab grass streams in to fill those dirt patches. By next Spring I hope to have a nice lawn there. It really doesn’t take much water, this drought hysteria is starting to go up my ass.

I like blogging because I meet the nicest folks.  I got a nice tip from  a reader about getting my will done. I’d written a blog about it and started to update it but hadn’t gotten around to getting it signed. I was thinking about getting it notarized to save my kids a lot of time and trouble in the Probate process. I’m still working on that. This reader sent me a link to a form that helps me organize all my assets – something that’s not covered in a simple will – really helpful. Just a list of your bank accounts and other stuff your heirs need to know, even burial instructions.

I’m not really obsessed with Death, but it comes across my mind whenever I’m on a bicycle. Pedaling off to and home from a city finance committee meeting this morning, I was shocked how bad traffic, and DRIVERS, are getting here in town. I had two run-ins with people who came right into my lane making turns, that’s always a shock for the both of us – the look of horror on one woman’s face is etched in my retina. I hope she sees the profanity I was mouthing at her for the rest of her life. When my husband and I did errands in our car later in the morning, the speeding and cutting off was even worse. People were DLA – Driving Like Assholes. On 8th Street we saw the remains of an accident, two cop cars sitting at the scene, the cops casually chatting as a disabled car was being dragged onto a tow truck.  Why does it take four salaried individuals to supervise the clean-up of an accident on a city street? When we watched the noon news we saw there’d been a pretty bad mash-up over on Cohasset, with a driver having to be cut loose of the car.

This is what former city staffer Tom Varga told us was going to become common place with development. Here we are – traffic will never get better in Chico, it’s only going to get worse and worse. Get ready for the kind of delays that have become every day life in the Bay Area, where San Francisco was recently voted the third worst traffic city in the United States, even worse than New York City. All we can do is try to be kind to each other, but I predict the animal behaviors will get worse as traffic gets more dense.

We have a lot of people living here who commute out of town every day to their jobs, and more moving here every day as council permits every subdivision that scurries across the dais. That can’t be good for our quality of life, which, according to Chico Chambress Katie Simmons, is the No. 1 reason businesses choose to locate here. What businesses?

Ah, Quality of Life – isn’t that all any of us wants? Some of us just demand more or different “quality” than others. I think some people demand inequality, because they want to feel better than others. I feel better when everybody is happy. 




Good Ship Chico is headed for the rocks – grab your dinghy!

I been sleeping in the last couple of days, and this morning as I get back into my regular routine, it’s dark outside. 

The stars are bright, the moon has gone to bed.  Orion stands clear of the horizon, beckoning his dogs. The freeway wails like a hungry monster. Maybe he’ll kill it and drag it like a giant serpent back to Olympus.  Cut it’s head off!

I feel the air quality in my nose and throat – sneeze, sniffle, hawkawad – and boy can you see the stuff as you drive down into town from the foothills. It looks like The Fog. 

yeah, here’s the plot line, with my sincere apologies to John Carpenter. A bunch of taxpayers trust a pile of elected officials and their hired staff to steer the city ship to safety. There’s a mutiny, the crew takes all the money and leaves the taxpayers stranded on Beer Can Beach. Every four years the taxpayers rise up in what could only be described as a fog,  to terrorize the elected officials, cull some staffers, and leave Duffy’s in a heap (sorry Doug). They elect some new elected officials, but forget to keep an eye on them, and wake up the next morning on Beer Can Beach, with a malicious hangover.

I said I was sorry! Don’t shoot me, I’m only the piano player. And I never said I could play the piano.

I have a lot of chores this week, but I’m scraping out a little space tomorrow morning to go and keep an eye on the crew. There’s a Finance Committee meeting, 8:30 am, Conference Room 1. I like those early morning meetings – get it over with, knowhatimean?  But it’s going to be chock full of outrageous stuff, they’re talking about a scam by which $taff can automatically raise their own pay. Every time a bell  rings, pretty much. Up to $10,000 without council approval? Wow, wish I could get in on that. 

Oh yeah, ha ha, I am in on it – I PAY for it!

Dammit I want to make somebody walk the plank, when do I get to make somebody walk the plank? 







Whipple’s urban forest

Today the sun rose out of the East, a perfect orange circle moving across the wall in my apartment. It was eery – forest fire sun – and I realized, it’s burn season. A gal I talked to from Red Bluff says people are keeping their animals inside, it’s so bad up there.

I’m conflicted – the smokey air irritates my throat and mouth. But, the air temperature is so nice, it’s just impossible to sit indoors all the time, watching the yard work pile up. So, the other day I resolved to wear a mask when I go outside – a paper mask for working around the yard and a brightly colored bandana for outings. Walmart has bandanas in all kinds of colors for about $2 a piece. They also offer a halfway decent deal on bananas, but you can check that out for yourself.

As you all know, I’ve been working on getting rid of sections of my lawn where the sun beats so hot watering is just a waste. When I just plain stopped watering a couple of years ago, I found out, weeds can survive, even thrive, on very little water. Sticker weeds took over my yard so bad, our dogs got sores on their feet. Badges got sores so bad we took him to see the Doc, who was shocked and told us to keep him around the patio for a couple of days. That’s when I decided I had to do something.

We had a huge black tarp from a roof job we’d done a while back, so I started cutting it into sections and dragging it out over the yard, weighting it down with stray bricks and rocks. It worked like gangbusters – it didn’t just kill the crabgrass and sticker weeds, it vaporized them.

Here I've moved the tarp aside and swept up a pile of stickers.

Here I’ve moved the tarp aside and swept up a pile of dead crabgrass and stickers.


If you take a close look into the wheel barrow, you'll see skads of those nasty little barrel clover stickers.

If you take a close look into the wheel barrow, you’ll see skads of those nasty little barrel clover stickers.

The problem being, can’t get the plastic too close to trees, because it would kill the roots. I figured cardboard would be better, let some moisture through to the trees while still starving the weeds of light. I saw people were doing this around town so, as crappy as it looked at first, I decided to try it.  I started collecting big cardboard boxes – be careful telling your friends you’re collecting cardboard!  I’ve been flattening  and placing them around the shade line of our little redwood tree. Then my husband bought me a truck load of bark from this new business over at 20th and Fair Streets ($20 for a yard of very nice shredded cedar) , and I covered the boxes as best I could. This below is one yard.

I didn't want to get the cardboard too close to the tree because it definitely blocks water, so I still get weeds and crabgrass around the base. I'll try more bark.

I didn’t want to get the cardboard too close to the tree because it definitely blocks water, so I still get weeds and crabgrass around the base. I’ll try more bark.

Meanwhile the plastic has sat all Summer, and it’s starting to rot into shreds.

In some spots bright green crabgrass is already busting through. This tarp isn't going to last much longer.

In some spots bright green crabgrass is already busting through. This tarp isn’t going to last much longer.

I have to move fast or Winter rains (and I promise, they’re coming alright!) will just bring back all those weeds again.  When I get it cleaned up my husband says he’ll go get me another load or two of bark.

 Rich on This Old House says you need at least six inches of mulch to block weeds.

But then what? This big expanse of bark for my dogs to track all over creation? We had to think, what will we do with this bark area, besides, bake bark in the sun.

Almost on cue, my husband’s phone rang, and it was Whipple. Whipple has been working on his house, getting it all ADA compliant for his beautiful daughter Kachina, who is the greatest thing on wheels. My husband’s been offering his consulting services on the floor work, and  went over to see how their new wheelchair friendly bathroom is working out.  When he came home, the back of our pick-up truck was full of baby trees.

Look at this selection of trees - three red buds, a crepe myrtle, and several cork oaks grown from tiny acorns. Oh yeah, they're going to be mighty!

Look at this selection of trees – three red buds, a crepe myrtle, and several cork and blue oaks grown from tiny acorns. Oh yeah, they’re going to be mighty!

Whipple has a green thumb. Everything he gives us grows like crazy. He gave me this selvia in a black plastic garbage bag, having dug it out of his garden on a whim and having nothing else to put it in. I’ve put it along a section of fence in the baking sun, it takes hardly any water at all.

This selvia or "blue sage" has grown along this hot section of fence for a couple of years now, spreading a little more each spring. It's really tough, you can forget it until it looks like it's about to die, and then a little water will bring it right back.

This selvia or “blue sage” has grown along this hot section of fence for a couple of years now, spreading a little more each spring. It’s really tough, you can forget it until it looks like it’s about to die, and then a little water will bring it right back.

This is a “buck brush” he gave us in a gallon pot years ago.

This enormous bush survives off nothing but Winter rain.

This enormous bush survives off nothing but Winter rain. We had no idea it would get so big. 

Here’s the red bud he gave us about five years ago.

I can't get over how this red bud has grown since we planted it here in the shade of an oak tree.

I can’t get over how this red bud has grown since we planted it here in the shade of an oak tree.

Here’s it’s little brother, I separated the roots.

These red bud are also very drought tolerant, but they do need a squirt now and then.

These red bud are also very drought tolerant, but they do need a squirt now and then.

So, when I saw the new trees Whipple sent, I had an instant vision of our new back yard, transformed from the plains of the Kalihari, to an urban forest. It gave me new motivation to get out there and bust a gut. 

Hah! Try getting any work done with these guys around.

As  I was squatting down to get a picture of my work area, Badges came to remind me that all work and no play is contrary to Nature.

As I was squatting down to get a picture of my work area, Badges came to remind me that all work and no play is contrary to Nature.

Statistics have indicated that people who have pets live longer, happier, healthier lives. I’ve read recently that people who own dogs are less likely to be the victims of crime. I’ve read they make happier marriages,  happier children. I know my grandmother seemed to come back to life when we got her a little dog. She complained about him all the time, but didn’t seem to be satisfied unless he was directly under her feet.  

I have dogs because they are irresistible. 

When Badges wants to play he picks up any toy - a ball, a stick, a piece of wood stolen from my husband's shop - and starts smashing it all over us.

When Badges wants to play he picks up any toy – a ball, a stick, a piece of wood stolen from my husband’s shop – and starts smashing it all over us.


Oh, now I have to stop and rub Biscuit's belly, it's in the contract.

Oh, now I have to stop and rub Biscuit’s belly, it’s in the contract. They’ll roll around like this until he offends her in some way, and then she just attacks him. Her coat is just filthy from rolling in the dirt, and you can see a sticker stuck to her chest right there.


Here he seems to be supervising the jobsite.

Having pissed Biscuit off finally, he comes back to me. I lose my resolve to work and go off to toss the ball. This job may take awhile.

I’ll keep you posted!





Cal Water questioned by Marysville City Council on rate hike proposal – councilors vote unanimously to oppose rate hike

From our friends at Marysville for Reasonable Water Rates



First the good news: The Marysville City Council voted 5-0 for Intervener Status in this General Rate Case for Cal Water. That means the City will formally oppose the rate increase. FINALLY the Marysville City Council is taking a strong stand. 

The numbers just didn’t add up in Cal Water’s presentation before the council. They never do. (Like they constantly say the average water bill in Marysville is $39.) The audience and the Council questioned it.

Mayor Samayoa asked some very pointed questions. The Mayor called them on the numbers not adding up. Power Point slides were not matching the words coming out of their mouths. Let’s just say….coming to Marysville does not mean that you are in PO-DUNK, USA. We are not as stupid as they would like us to be.
During the Cal Water presentation they explained that every ratepayer in Marysville will be looking at an extra $846 charge for infrastructure. They tout that they have been serving Marysville for over 80 years. Where has the money gone? To those huge million dollar salaries for their executives? To support the San Jose Corp building? To the Cal Water Shareholders? Obviously not into our pipes and infrastructure.

This $846 charge will be per household/business. It will not pay for a drop of water. It is to pay for repairs and upgrades that should have been done over the past 80 years.

Councilman Simmons asked a very good question. He asked if the other cities that Cal Water is proposing to “combine” with Marysville (as one unit to establish rates) do not meet their conservation quota, does that mean that all of the cities in that unit will be penalized (WRAM etc)? Cal Water did not answer with words. Councilman Simmons’ question was met with silence. So, the answer would be YES!! If another city has major repairs or updates, that would impact the rates in Marysville.

Marysville needs to fight back. We cannot leave that fight up to the City Council. The people have to finally get lathered-up and speak-up. A Formal Complaint to CPUC will take the signatures of 40 plus ratepayers. Are ya ready to sign?

We will begin gathering information for the steps to take back our water system. Stay tuned here for updates.

Cal Water rate hike – did you get the insert?

Waiting by the front door when I came home last week.

I found this perfectly pink cactus flower waiting by my doorstep when I came home, a busy bee working away inside.

What a funny Summer we’ve had – here this cactus that usually blooms in June has finally put out one single, perfect flower. In June it was so hot, the half-dozen furry nodules that erupted from the thorny skin all dried up and fell off before they were as big as a decent-sized marble. Over the course of that last cool spell, I noticed another tiny bump that grew and grew, despite the rising temperatures over the last week. Here we are, back at 100+, and out pops this gorgeous bloom.

Life is full of surprises. 

My husband managed to gather a half dozen tomatoes this morning before it got really hot in the garden. We chopped them into a nice batch of salsa and he made us a quick easy lunch of “nachos”.

When I was a kid in Glenn County, "Nacho" was a pretty common boy's name, short for "Ignacio," which is way too hard for small children to pronounce.

When I was a kid in Glenn County, “Nacho” was a pretty common boy’s name, short for “Ignacio,” which has too many syllables for small children.  

At the ballpark or at Cal Skate, “nachos” are a pile of corn chips under a blob of Velveeta. Eeeeech. We like to dress ours up a little, starting with some diced chicken, maybe some canned beans, homemade salsa, and a sprinkle of cheese. We layer it into a baking dish and pop it into the oven for 10 or 15 minutes. This is a pretty substantial meal, especially if you add a green salad. 

I’ve been busy lately, had to make the best of meals on the run. I’ve been following the Cal Water rate hike, I’m asking around Chico – have you got the insert that was supposed to be included in your most recent Cal Water bill? They applied for a rate hike in July, and I was told at that time they would be noticing Chico customers in the next billing cycle – August. 

My bill says, “”Please review the enclosed bill insert about Cal Water’s required General Rate Case filing…”  but, there is no such insert enclosed. This seems like a violation of the process, so I e-mailed the CPUC Public Advisor’s office to let them know about it. At first I didn’t think she would take me seriously, so I made sure to include my supervisor, Maureen Kirk.

Maureen has been working on this case since she became aware of the proposal in July. She’s trying to become “a party” to the proceedings, which means, you get e-mail updates from CPUC as the process winds along. That’s more than Cal Water customers are going to get. Problem is, it’s a really onerous process, and the CPUC rep has already admitted that most people get some sort of legal assistance in filling out the forms. He suggested she get the county counsel to do it, we’ll see how she progresses. 

I also sent out notes to various people I know, asking if they’d received the insert, or even got the bill with the note in it. I received the sad truth – several people got right back to me, saying, they don’t read their bill, they round-file any inserts without a glance. Boy, is that depressing. But, a couple of people have said they’re still waiting for this month’s bill, we’ll see if they get anything.

Today Claudia Portillo from the Advisor’s office got back to me – she says I wasn’t the only one who didn’t receive the insert, I was shocked. I don’t know how she knows this. But, she says, it was a small enough glitch that it will not affect the process. Cal Water has promised to send around another notice. 

No, I don’t think Cal Water purposely left that insert out of (how many?) bills, but I think it shows the weakness in the system. Why aren’t they required to post public notices in newspapers, on tv, maybe billboards? Shouldn’t they be knocking themselves out to make sure this process is fair? Somebody certainly should. 

But ultimately it’s the customer who is responsible.  To think people would admit throwing out these notices without a glance, but still expect to complain when rates go up.  

Ms. Portillos says, “Unfortunately I’m not surprised to hear most people throw their bill out and don’t really pay attention to the other materials that accompany it. It’s a problem we’re always trying to work around and consider especially when it comes time to noticing of public hearings. Some utility customers say they don’t know about rate changes, even though the information is published in local papers and sent in bill inserts because they just throw them out.”

I’ll tell you the really funny part – the same bill includes a notice telling us that the last approved rate hike just kicked in. 

What a funny Summer we’ve had. Funny weird, Funny bad, not Funny ha-ha.