Enjoy Bidwell Park at your own risk

Yesterday my husband and I finished our chores early and jumped on our mountain bikes for a ride up into Bidwell Park. We often ride the old Schwinn Twin up to the rifle range and back, but the mountain bikes can maneuver the off road trails and I feel like I’m getting more of a workout.

The city has let the park go to hell.  The paved roads are shredded, not from cars, but from the garbage trucks that come in to get the trash every week. Those roads, even maintained, are not built for big trucks, and the city knows that. But, city workers get paid in excess of $65,000 a year, plus benefits and pension, while a garbage truck driver gets little more than minimum wage with no benies, so the city went with the garbage companies.

The longtime trails are overgrown with poison oak and blackberry vines, and riddled with dangerous gopher holes. Paved paths are being eaten away by erosion – a large tree fell across the creek and was allowed to lay there, diverting the stream, which ate within inches of the road, which sits in disrepair waiting to form a sink hole.  Full poop bags are left on the ground along trails, or even tied festively to trees and shrubs along the way.  If you wind your way into the overgrowth, you will find signs of homeless camps.  Trees are dangerously unmaintained, branches are falling all the time, some over trails or the roadway.

All of these conditions threaten legal liability for the city. I recommend anybody visiting the park be very careful.

As Mayor, Mark Sorensen holds full responsibility and should be ashamed of what he’s allowed to happen to our “jewel” while employees fed like a pack of hogs off the budget. Now he promises roads will be opened and maintenance will  return to schedule. How obvious a ploy was this? He hired Nakamura and let the guy close and gut our parks while he and the other management employees pilfered the cookie jar, and now he tried to act as though it was some tragedy out of his control. Let me check my watch – I’ll give him about six months before he’s pandering for a sales tax increase to cover all his good intentions!

 But, I couldn’t let that stop me from enjoying the park on a day like yesterday. We left our house and headed right into the lower park. Right away we were greeted by frisky Pipevine Swallowtail butterflies, which are native to this area. You will find them all over town, but they lay their eggs in the Pipevine plants that grow along creeks and foresty trails, that’s the only food their larvae can eat. There is quite a lot of Pipevine in the park, and also at Lindo Channel.

These butterflies might seem plain in poor light, but in sunshine you can see the rainbow colors emitted from their black wings.  The caterpillars will be appearing soon -black and orange stripes, with these curious little appendages that stick up when they are startled. I’ve heard they are poisonous, but I don’t have to touch them to enjoy them. I’m already searching lush patches of pipevine for the telltale holes in the leaves – turn the leaf over, and there they are, oftentimes still in the line they hatched from, their little siblings munching away right alongside them. They start out a quarter of an inch or so – adorable, like tiny muppets – and grow up to about 4 inches before they hit the trails to cocoon and make the transformation into an adult butterfly.  By June you should see the caterpillars lumbering along trails and even  across the road – watch your step please!

The butterflies twittered around our heads as we made our way along the trails. They raced along beside us sometimes. The shinier, more colorful males get into little battles, a dusty female hanging around nearby. They really seem to go for blue flowers, native or not – the vinca is blooming right now, and for all the bad things people say about that stuff, the butterflies love it. They also like the native brodiaea, those purple flowers that grow in grassy, sunny meadows. The old people used to eat the bulbs of those flowers, they’re like onions.

We rode up the south side of the park, passed under the Manzanita bridge. My husband has used the trails under the bridge since childhood, I think it’s a death trap. The city sealed somebody’s fate when they paved it – what a stupid move. The deal Annie Bidwell made with the city when she allowed pavement of Manzanita and a new bridge was that the bridge should be high enough for her phaeton to pass underneath.

This is a phaeton.

Image result for one horse phaeton
 Image courtesy of the Carriage Collection, Stony Brook Museums

There is a phaeton available for viewing at Bidwell Mansion, I don’t know if it was Annie’s or not, but it sure as hell would not pass under that bridge. Certainly not when the trail is flooded. Another example of how seriously they take a person who leaves private property to the public.

Beyond the bridge you see how Mark Sorensen has allowed that paved trail to be undermined by gophers and weather and encroached upon by trees. The edges of the path are broken and a safety hazard. Approaching Five Mile we see potholes that could take a runner down whole. My advice to runners – don’t go into the park after sunset, you will break your leg.

Everywhere non-native plants are threatening native plants, huge rotten limbs hang precariously  over the road  or paved trails, occasionally coming crashing down and closing off the road or heavily used trails until the city arranges for them tobe removed. Lush, oily poison oak is protruding into pathways, errant branches hanging into the paved road.

Parking lots have been closed, so cars line the public roads, creating a nuisance in the residential areas and a safety hazard on the narrow, unmaintained roads surrounding the park. It looks like they’re mowing weeds in  some areas – they better hurry, before the ground  really dries out and somebody starts a fire parking their car in a weed patch. Soon they will be in danger of starting a fire with the mower.

A sign set next to a tree as you exit the park onto the public road warns of “Honey Bees at Work”. The gate is locked and the narrow pedestrian/bike trail leads the passerby directly to the bees’ nest.  Proceed at your own risk. My husband  and I lowered our heads and entered the little crowd of workers, a couple of them bounced off my head, one gal followed but not far.

We headed up from Five Mile toward the golf course, up along the canyon road and back to the dirt road that leads up to the old shooting range. That trail is very bad, the rocks create a washboard at the bottom. I know the mountain bikers don’t care, but I don’t like it – it’s dangerous, somebody is going to get hurt, and I think the city is liable. That’s our money!

Riding up along the creek, we saw a big pile of bear scat, just below those houses on the ridge, along the old  deteriorating rock wall. Looked like he or she had stuffed  themselves on some wild plums, pits and all. 

After huffing and puffing myself up the hill, I sat with my husband in the meadow at the gun range, sharing a bottle of water and a candy  bar. The trail gets too steep for me at this point, so we watch as much younger people mount that skid and  fail, grabbing their bike frame and cursing their way up the slippery hard dirt, disappearing into the buck brush.

After enjoying the flowers and bugs and slow lazy vultures swooping overhead, we mounted up and went back to Five Mile, crossed the bridge, and took those dirt trails north of the creek. The greenery is lush and beautiful, purple vetch blooming four feet high, butterflies everywhere. A little clutch of battling males flittered around my head. At this point my arms and butt were sore, and I realized, we still had quite a ways home. I had my backpack with water bag – that is the best thing ever, no fumbling with water bottle.

We wound our way to the paved trail that runs along Manzanita, passed the Frisbee golf course, where we saw at least a dozen players enjoying themselves. The traffic circles were busy, and as such,  very bicycle unfriendly, so my husband took me under the bridge on the unpaved trail. EEEK! – there’s a huge hole under there, big enough to eat our friend Jerry, who  almost hit it the other day. The city needs to close this trail  and do something about either improving it or closing it off permanently.  I’ll tell you what, it’s pretty dangerous trying to navigate that stupid traffic circle on a bike, it’s six of one half dozen of the other as far as I’m concerned. I walked it.

That last leg beyond the Manzanita bridge is always the longest 100 miles for me. Sheesh I was tired, the mountain bike is way  more of a work out, especially following my husband, Captain Speed. My friend and constant companion, Arthur Itis, was starting to use unsavory language.  People were out in force with their dogs, some off leash, and I had to hold my tongue to keep from asking one lady just what she intended to do with the poop bag she had in her hand.

We rolled into our driveway and I went right in and took some Hylands anti-cramp pills. I  think they work – I used to wake up in the middle of the night after a ride like this with cramps in my legs, which would be jerking and kicking as if still in the pedals. These pills – I order them from Lucky Vitamin – have helped alot. I use them for long car trips too.  

They say bananas are good for cramps, I put a banana in my smoothie every morning.

The mayor has made big talk lately about opening the roads into the park again, after they do some maintenance. I’ll say, it’s long overdue, and let’s not forget who allowed things to get to this point in the first place.

Update update on the aeroponic lettuce – we’ll give it another whack!

First harvest from the aeroponic lettuce.

First harvest from the aeroponic lettuce.

Just when I was about to give up on the aeroponic lettuce, I noticed the plants had grown quite a bit. Adding more nutrient solution was the trick. I had only been “feeding” the plants once a week, they need to be fed more like four times a week. The nutrient solution is not expensive, one bottle goes a long way. 

I pulled out the plants one by one, replacing each one with a new plant from the little flat of seedlings my husband started in the first place.

The seedlings look sad for a day or so but over night they perk up.

The seedlings look sad for a day or so but over night they perk up.

It’s amazing how tough the little plants are, I yank them free of the mass of other plants and set them in the little net pot, then place the ceramic rooting rocks around the base. The toughest part is setting them into the rain gutter so that the stream of nutrient water spraying from below doesn’t leak out. I check them at least once a day, and adjust any pots that are leaking. 

The water reservoir is full of moss that has grown in the nutrient solution - once a week the water needs to be changed and the tub cleaned out.

The water reservoir is full of moss that has grown in the nutrient solution – once a week the water needs to be changed and the tub cleaned out.

The water gets pretty green and slimy, plugging up the spray emitters (holes punched in the hose with a piece of wire). Once a week I dump the nutrient solution and scrub out the tub, then go over all the emitters with toothbrush. I check the emitters regularly to make sure they’re running. I don’t think I put a half hour a day into it, and I’m finally getting a payoff. I was going to quit and start over again in Fall, but I decided to place another set of plants, now that I seem to have it figured out, see if I can get bigger plants faster.

The aloe garden is coming along, still feeling the shock of transplanting.

The aloe garden is coming along, still feeling the shock of transplanting.  I had a couple of containers that were suddenly full to overflowing, so I’m spreading them out. 

I’ve been working on my aloe vera garden too, trying to get a steady enough supply to furnish me with gel for my morning smoothie, as well as my hands. I get sore hands this time of year, all the gardening. Aloe vera gel is the best thing I’ve tried for those cracked fingers and knuckles, and I love being able to grow my own. 

We’ve made adjustments in our gardening to be water wise. It’s good to live within your means, and good to remember – times aren’t always hard, California is a land of plenty.  Right now, we’re having plenty of drought.  Kris Kuyper said on the weather report the other night – this is the third major dry spell we’ve had since the 1970’s, and each of the previous two were followed directly by several years of steadily increasing rain, flooding, water levels above and beyond “normal.”  


Happy Spring Everybody!

At about 4am  I woke to the sound of steady rain. Now the eaves are dripping, the stars are out, it may be over. It’s nice to get rid of some of the dust and pollen that’s coated everything. My patio gleams with green glitter. At Safeway the other day I notice people have given up washing it off their cars.  

Spring has made it’s official entrance,  although, she’s been pandering around the front door since December.  My husband and I have been planting seeds. The other day he took the fencing down from our garden, he’s given the whole area a good turning over this year and re-arranged all the beds. Every now and then it’s a good idea to confuse the pests. And the trees have changed around our garden – one old tree has steadily died, and finally been removed, and other younger trees have grown and changed shape. So, we have a different sun pattern, have to figure out where’s the best sun, for how many hours, etc.

I’m just about to give up on my lettuce garden – I don’t have time to putter with it, but I’ve learned enough to give it another whack next Fall. One thing I found out is you have to keep an eye on it, little things can go wrong, easily fixed, that can put a damper on production. I think I can work out the bugs, but I will need to give it my full attention next year. For now I will put the little set-up away – good to go next year.

6:20 train is a little late today.  They blow the horn as if the students are back in town. I guess school is back in next week, too bad. Town is so blissfully quiet during Spring Break – it’s not just the college kids, it’s the college professors, the public school workers – whole families just pack up and leave at this time. Thank you! 

Yesterday morning I realized, the heat is coming, I have to change my habits, get cooking earlier in the morning. Last night we made a couple of calzones, our second attempt, worked out great. But we notice, the kitchen is already getting a little uncomfortable with the stove on. 

This calzone is for tonight.

This calzone is for tonight.  The edge of the crust turned out like a little loaf of bread.

My husband stir-fried some chicken with BBQ sauce, onions, peppers, etc, then piled it onto one side of a pizza dough. It’s as easy as making pizza – just put it all on one side, fold it over, and pinch the edges together. This time we added cottage cheese – that was great, gave it more moisture, a creamier consistency. We add no mozarella, just a little parmesan, romano, or asiago. Ricotta is too rich for our old stomachs, cottage cheese is a lot gentler.  We ate the first one, I was hungrier than I realized after a day of chores. We have another busy day ahead, a lot of physical activity, so this second pie will be good to have in the fridge when we come home. 

I can’t wait to try this on the grill, I think it will be easier than pizza. I’m thinking now about cooking in Summer – I predict Summer will be really hot this year, and I don’t want to be stuck in the kitchen, but I like to have a hot meal once in a while. And pizzas and calzones taste great cold too!

The birds just started chirping, so I guess the sun is making it’s way up the side of my neighbor’s house now. I imagine things will look spectacular this morning. Time to get out there!


Who has their hand in your purse today? Everybody!

Things look hopeful this morning, weatherman says we might get some rain early next week.

Ahhhh – what will today bring?


Watching the sun peak out over my neighbor’s house, I think about my day. Yesterday I did something different – I put aside the usual chores and business and went out for lunch with the League of Women Voters. Their event – Brown Bag the Brown Act – turned out to be very informative. 

And, it’s just fun to sit in a chair in the Women’s Club, with a bunch of other like minds, and eat a pbj on fresh bread while having my mind expanded. It was almost as good as a trip to Suite A, without the cut and color.

I like to get up early and sit in the dark and try to clear my mind from all the mundane thoughts – 1) what is for dinner? 2) what chores need to be done? 3) what’s on tv tonight?

I try to think about “important stuff” – tonight Chico Area Recreation District has their regular monthly board meeting. What’s changed? They’ve moved all the meetings out to the Lakeside Pavilion on California Park Drive. Meetings have been held for years at the CARD center, an easy bike ride from my house – an easy bike ride from everybody’s house.  Now we have to drive out to Lakeside Pavilion, on the far east side of Chico? Sounds very fishy, I’m going to have to inquire as to why the meetings have been moved, I’ll get back to you.

So, you think I enjoy doing this crap? Have my husband drive me out to Lakeside Pavilion for one of these meetings when I could be sitting at home digesting my dinner and taking my dogs out to snoop the hood? No, it’s total bullshit. I do it because I don’t like being screwed without notice, and that’s what happens if you don’t keep your eye on these agencies.  The agenda says they’re getting the usual report from the aquatic committee that doesn’t have any meetings!

And then there’s the garbage deal. I don’t know what to do about that – send my usual criping e-mail? Tell them I won’t accept service from Waste Management after all the years they screwed me around?  What? They’ve foisted so many lies it’s like going into a shitstorm with a tennis racket.

The police contracts have not been signed, but I just had one council member contact me with what sounded like rationalizations for approving it. I don’t know how any rational person could sign these contracts unless they have personal gain – Mark Sorensen, public employee Biggs; Sean Morgan, public employee, CSUC; Ann Schwab, public employee, CSUC, Reanette Filmer, CalPERS consultant, various public agencies in different counties; Andrew Coolidge, married to public employee, CSUC and Butte College; Randall Stone, married to public employee, County of Butte. Tami Ritter is not currently employed in the public sector but has swam the public trough in past. I don’t know what her partner does, but I wouldn’t be surprised if she’s a public worker, given the pattern.  They all benefit personally from keeping the pension system in place.

They all get the health policy of their choice from the city of Chico, pay two percent of their salaries for it, and we pay the rest. Mark Sorensen is getting the most expensive package available last time I checked – about $20,000 a year – despite listing earnings from his satellite tv business at over $100,000/year, and another $79,000 in salary and about $8,000 in benefits out of the city of Biggs. Chico has a rule – these folks who have another insurance policy can opt out of the city’s insurance policy and get a cash payment instead!  Think that’s why he chose the most expensive package? Or is it his fiscal conservatism? I don’t know if Biggs has the same rule – is he taking a cash pay-out from Biggs while we pay $20,000/year to afford health insurance to Mark, his wife, his daughters and those grand-kids he’s bragged about? 

When I’ve asked Sorensen about this policy, he’s refused to answer. He treats me like I’m out-of-line all the time. I think Mr. Sorensen has some questions to answer, and I wonder how many of his supporters would be surprised with the answers. 

I know, bitch-bitch-bitch. Time to get out and enjoy the day, get some work done. I hope to see you out at Lakeside Pavilion tonight. 







Mexican St Patricks Day – try some tacos de lengua a Juanita

I’m not Irish, I’m not Catholic, but for some reason St Patrick’s day always attracts my attention.  St Patrick was probably an awful asshole – most religious zealots are. He is to the Irish pagan what Columbus was to the Native American. I have no idea where the green and the booze came in, but I like to mark this day with some special food.

We ALWAYS get a corned beef, that’s my thing. We pick it up at Chico Locker on schedule every year. But we also have a bunch of meat in the freezer from my father-in-law, who butchered one of those little Japanese cows last fall. I had asked him ahead for the tongue, and was really flattered when he saved it for me. He has a couple of Mexican ranch hands who were eye-balling it, they were all pretty surprised when I asked for it. 

My grandma used to get a beef tongue a few times a year. It was a big deal at our house. As far as I’m concerned, it’s one of the best cuts of meat, if you cook it right, really tender and juicy, sweet and meaty.

This is actually a small cow's tongue - just over two pounds. The ones my grandma used to get were about twice this size.

This is actually a small cow’s tongue – just over two pounds. The ones my grandma used to get were about twice this size. Most of the meat is the tongue – that big fatty blob at the bottom is mostly just that, but of course adds to the flavor.

The first thing you do with this thing (after you defrost it) is scrub it with a brush, make sure to get it good and clean. I was shocked how clean this one was – that’s what you get when you have a butcher dress your meat, instead of get it at the store.  

Next you soak it for two hours in cold water, I think this starts loosening the skin. 

Cold water for two hours - this is real Grandma cooking, takes all day.

Cold water for two hours – this is real Grandma cooking, takes all day.

This was like a trip back in time for me. I remember my grandma cooking meals like this all day, working around her other chores, other business, the kitchen and living room windows all steamed up. We’d come and go all day, asking for snacks, complaining, “I’m bored Grandma…” She’d take out some leftovers and make a “dab dinner” at the kitchen table (“dinner” was “lunch”, “supper” was “dinner”), then herd us into the living room and assign cleaning chores. Within 10 minutes we’d be piled in front of the tv and she’d be sorting mail at the supper table. Grandpa would come in occasionally to poke at the stove, which would usually get him a “look”. “It will be done when it’s done,” she’d  say, from atop a hand of Solitaire.

I use my kitchen timer to remind me and I go off to do other chores, like Grandma. When I don’t have something on the stove, I can ride my bike up through Bidwell Park to the post office and the bank,  hit the grocery store, ride home. When I have something on the stove, I stay within sound of the timer. Yesterday I had a lot of weeding and watering, got a good workout running back and forth to check the timer.

After a couple of hours soaking, it was ready to go in the cook pot. Simple enough – cover it with  water, put in a few peppercorns and a couple cloves of mace, and  then you turn it on a slow simmer. The recommendation is an hour a pound, mine took a little longer than that, because I really  kept it on low. Boiling it outright will  make it tough enough to be featured on a Fabulous Thunderbirds record.  It’s done when it’s tender to the fork, and the skin is obviously loose.  Time to take it out of the pot and immerse it in a pot of cold water.

Okay, here's where it gets messy.

Okay, here’s where it gets messy.

Once the tongue is cool enough to handle, time to take off that skin. It’s really tough and leathery, and if the tongue is done, it will come off easily, in big pieces. I probably could have got it in one piece if it weren’t so slippery, and my husband and I weren’t laughing so hard. 

My husband  is pretty open-minded about new foods, but he’s never seen or handled beef tongue. He’s bought me tacos lenguas at the wagon, but they put so much crap on it you might as well be eating pencil erasers. He was really holding back his revulsion. 

This is the skinned tongue. Then you cut out the base, which is mostly fat.   There is some very nice meat buried in the fat - this I will cut up into my dog's food.

This is the skinned tongue. Then you cut out the base, which is mostly fat. There is some very nice meat buried in the fat – this I will cut up into my dog’s food.

At this point my husband sent a picture to my sons, who both texted back, “It looks like a foot!” They were not interested in coming over for dinner.

At my grandparents’s house, this would have been put on a platter and sliced up, served with mashed potatoes and a gravy made from the broth left in the pot. But, the only way I could get my husband to eat it was in tacos.  

At least he didn't bury it in chili sauce like they do at the wagon.

At least he didn’t bury it in chili sauce like they do at the wagon.

Add some green cabbage, some downtrodden avocados, a little lime, and you got Irish Mexican tacos.

Add some green cabbage, some downtrodden avocados, a little lime, and you got Irish Mexican tacos.

It’s the luck o’ the Mexican Irish. 


I’m about to take a bite out of crime

Today I see the world from a new perspective – yesterday was my 55th birthday. 

I’ve been really worried lately, times are hard, things seem to be getting worse. Prices are going up on everything, taxes are going up, Obamacare has made medical care harder and more expensive to get. As if on cue, tools and appliances I’ve depended on for years have been breaking, necessitating spending at a time when money is really tight. 

Yesterday I finally had sort of an epiphany – everything is going to be fine. I’m going to take Alfred E. Neuman’s advice, and stop worrying so much. I’ve being reacting – that means, being a reactionary.  It’s time to start acting.

So I asked my husband to take me shooting. You know, with a gun. I wanted to get comfortable with guns again because I think it’s stupid to expect other people to protect you.

Of course I’ve shot before. I grew up in Glenn County, where the sheriff or CHP will tell you, “I can’t be here for at least 20 minutes, you better have something.”   

Hunting was a way of life when I was a kid, and people carried shotguns in their pick-up trucks, kept them on racks on the living room wall, or if they were rich people with really nice or antique guns, they kept them in a case to keep the dust off them. My family kept our guns in the spice cabinet next to the kitchen stove, and my uncle had a few in his closet. Later my grandparents kept them propped next to their bed.  As children my mother and her brother had their own guns. We didn’t have hand-guns – even my grandma could shoulder a shotgun, and everybody around the Butte City 4 Corners knew they better damn well call before they show up at my grandparents’ house after dark. 

In the middle of the night, our “next door” neighbor John Burrows would call my grandpa on our phone – which was rigged with one of those ringers you could hear out back in the orchard – “Andy, I just seen somebody headed for the slough…(a wild swamp area between our two houses)” And my gramps would put his boots and jacket on over his pajamas, grab the gun, and grumble his way out the back door. Of course we’d all be awake and following his every step, Gram toting her own shotgun to watch silent and deadly from the back  stoop. She was a sight People – her teeth were sitting safely in a glass in the bathroom, and her hair was pinned up under a do-rag. She’d have a pair of Gramp’s boots on, and an old shirt pulled  over her nightgown, and if she couldn’t find her glasses, well, we just hoped she’d recognize Gramp  when he came stumbling in through the truck garden. 

“Got-damn Burrows, thought he saw something again!” he’d curse as he came back in. But once we heard a shot, and we all sat in cold sweat. Burrows had thought he’d seem something, and it was Gramps, and luckily Burrows was a crappy shot. “Got-damn Burrows!” 

Well, when I took my husband out to the place to spend the night while my gram was still alive, I took him on an after-dinner stroll down the ditch bank, and what did we find  just the other side of the slough,  but a man standing watch over a load of nuts with a shot gun.  He told us nut thefts are bad out there, and what could law enforcement do about it? Yes, during nut harvest, a smart farmer gets himself a shotgun and a pot of coffee and sits in wait in his orchard at night.  It’s fun, you can shoot rats on the ditch bank as long as there’s no cars coming. 

Yeah, what can law enforcement do,  but stand  around waiting for crimes to be committed and then hold up their hands and say they don’t have enough man-power to do anything about it? 

Annie, get your gun.

Lay that pistol down, Mama, lay that pistol down.

Just call me Pistol Packin’ Mama.

My husband’s father hunted as a child and took my husband hunting. So, when my kids were old enough, we sent them to the gun safety course at the Search  and Rescue facility south of town. They had to read a lot of material, take chapter tests, and then a similar, hour and a half long written exam proctored by Search and Rescue members. They were just learning to read, it was a great experience for both of them. It required them to sit quietly and work in a room full of people for an hour and a half – I think that shows focus. They both passed with high scores. 

We have hand-guns because we go into the wilderness and most law enforcement people will tell you it’s a good idea to carry protection. When we were annoyed by a 300 pound black bear at a campground near Lassen, the two lady rangers who came around the next morning expressed surprise that we were not armed. Stanley was not a particularly aggressive bear they said, “yet”. They’d had a lot of problems with him, and that meant he wasn’t scared of people anymore. He came into our tent site, started sniffing at our tent, and even when we threw stuff at him he wouldn’t go.  We’d got rid of him, finally, when our friend slipped  into the car and started honking the horn. Both of those ranger ladies where strapping .45’s – two little housewife looking ladies, the only thing on their bodies that were bigger than those guns were their butts.

We have some friends who have a range on their remote property – a clear cut with a giant dirt mound along one hillside. The ground is littered with years and years of casings, broken glass and bits of clay pigeons. We used festive paper cake plates nailed to the front of the mound, easy to see if you hit the target. 

I’m small and light-boned, I’ve had arthritis, officially, for about three years. I was afraid, since I hadn’t shot a gun in years, that it would hurt. So we started with the .22. My husband makes us wear earphones, cause it’s actually quite loud. But, it was “child’s play” to shoot, hardly any recoil. From 30 feet out, I was able to hit that little paper plate twice in 11 shots. I kept my general cluster right around the rim, you could see the dirt flying.  It was gratifying – I just don’t want to be afraid, and now I think I can manage.

I won’t be packing around my hood, though. Too dangerous. In your neighborhood it’s better to be packing a club of some sort. I like a broom, my husband prefers an aluminum baseball  bat. Of course we have the dogs. Oh Lord, after what we did to a rat that tried to get in our garage, I pity the motherfucker who comes snooping around my house in the middle of the night. 

Crime, I’m about to take a bite out of you.



Time to get your drink on!

I really tried to be ready for pollen this year, but wow – Nature isn’t messing around. 

I try to tell my self, these will be peaches. But for now, they're little pollen bombs.

I try to tell my self, these will be peaches. But for now, they’re little pollen bombs.

I think it’s the timing on the rain – we don’t need a lot, we just need it at the right time. Last year, a drought year, my peaches put off the biggest crop we have ever got. For a week last July I picked, pitted and bagged peaches. I only ran out of frozen peaches about three weeks ago. I even juiced a few pints, and whoa – it’s the nectar of the gods, people.

The grass is really high this year - my husband saves me this patch where we get a lot of mustard flowers. Mustard flowers and leaves are good to eat - but like my husband says, pick the high ones, higher than Badges can lift his leg.

The grass is really high this year – my husband mows around this patch where we get a lot of mustard flowers. Mustard flowers and leaves are good to eat, they have a hot taste like wasabi. There’s Biscuit, getting pollinated. She sneezes and sneezes. 

The unopened flowers are crunchy and spicey, the young leaves are tender and sweet.

The unopened flowers are crunchy and spicey, the young leaves are tender and sweet.

Gotta love a working girl.

Gotta love a working girl.

It’s a real contradiction – pollen gives us the foods we need to eat, but it seems to be trying to kill us during this time of year. My nose is burning, my eyes are dry – I have those horse shoes under my eyes too. I wake up early because my nose is glued shut. My stomach hurts from the continuous snot drip. My husband is sick all the time, but charges right back out there every morning, like Don Quixote. We wear masks, we change our clothes and  shower when we come in – yesterday I realized, we need to clean the inside of the F-150, which is parked in the driveway under two very horny trees. 

Yesterday I just said “F-it!” and stayed in the house for most of the day. That’s pretty impossible, I had to go out to do various errands and chores, take the dogs out for their shots, etc. The best laid plans of mice and moms – by dinnertime, my husband was calling me “Wheezy”. 

The capers in this chicken picatta we made for dinner really opened up the old sinuses.

The capers in this chicken piccata we made for dinner really opened up the old sinuses. I breaded this with crumbs made from my own bread, really made a difference in taste.

It’s a good time for spicey food. We picked up a little jar of capers to jazz up the same old same old, and yeah, they’ll dust the pollen out of your dark recesses. 

And in the morning, when my stomach is sour and bitchy from that post nasal drip, I look forward to my smoothie, it’s about the only thing that appeals to me at this point. 

Every morning I cut a fresh  leaf of aloe vera and scrape the slimy pulp into my smoothie. Then I take the skin and smooth the remaining pulp over my hands.

Every morning I cut a fresh leaf of aloe vera (take the paring knife along one side seam and cut to the other side, fold open)  and scrape most of the slimy pulp into my smoothie. Then I take the skin and smear the remaining pulp over my hands.

Here's about one ounce of pulp. It's so sticky - I could hold the plate upside down, and it would just hang like a big...nevermind. It has a slight bitter taste, but that gets lost in all the fruit and yogurt.

Here’s about one ounce of pulp. It’s so sticky – I could hold the plate upside down, and it would just hang like a big…nevermind. It has a slight bitter taste, but that gets lost in all the fruit and yogurt.

I've got some frozen fruit ( best deal right now is Raleys), a blob of aloe, some protein powder, homemade yogurt - I add pineapple juice and buttermilk.

I’ve got some frozen fruit ( best deal right now is Raleys), a blob of aloe, some protein powder, homemade yogurt – I add pineapple juice and buttermilk.

All that goes into this new "bullet" blender my family got me for Valentine's Day. My husband felt my old blender was inefficient and hard to clean - he was right!

All that goes into this new “bullet” blender my family got me for Valentine’s Day. My husband felt my old blender was inefficient and hard to clean – he was right!

My family treated me to a new tiny blender that works tons better and is easier to use than my old blender. This thing is so powerful, it gets all the protein powder and even hard frozen fruit. And then…

...you drink it right out of the cup.

…you drink it right out of the cup. The aloe makes it a little foamier, and gives it this little snappy taste.  Makes me smack my lips and say ‘Oh yeah Babee!” every time.

Time to wake up! Oh yeah Babee!