Hunkering down in a storm

Get out the rain barrels.

I sat on my patio during that dumper and watched my rain barrel fill up within 5 minutes.

Hey, is the drought over yet? Or what!

Weather man wasn’t kidding, we finally had a couple of days of good dumping rain.  I didn’t have my rain barrels in place, but managed to drag one out and put it under our main downspout. I hadn’t had time to clean it, and of course the spigot got plugged, and before we knew it the water was pouring over like a fountain.

And damned if that chicken wasn’t ready to go on the grill, which my husband had  all heated up when the first rain drops starting falling.

Looks like  the grill could use a good washing off anyway.

Looks like the grill could use a good washing off anyway.

My husband assured me the rain was not going to ruin our parade, and he was right.

The salt rub gives it the nicest color, and the meat is sweet, juicy and tender.

The salt rub gives it the nicest color, and the meat is sweet, juicy and tender.

Of course the bread made out okay tucked into the house oven.

"I just need a few more minutes!"

“I just need a few more minutes!”

Sourdough Bob never lets me down. 

Today we get a break, time to go out and clean up the tree debris. I need to get my torch out, the weeds are coming in like gangbusters. 


You haven’t lived until you’ve opposed a school bond


What an adventure – I decided to officially oppose a bond on my local ballot, and I found out – it’s a lot of work trying to throw a wrench in somebody’s carefully laid-out scheme.

 The school district put up a $152 million bond, saying the schools are rotting around the kids’ heads and they need to make repairs. That sounds almost reasonable – unless you know they have passed $126 million in bonds within the last 15 years, using the same excuses, but for some reason have not done any repairs.

They tout a new “Performing Arts” center at one high school and a new sports field at the other, but they weren’t able to include lights or even bleachers so need more money. What? 

It seems weird to me that a fancy theater and a sports field take precedence over removing asbestos ceiling and floor tiles, fixing rotten plumbing and dysfunctional electric systems, but you see, that’s how Chico Unified School District is run. And in the meantime, they continue to shovel millions out for pensions and health benefits, totaling over $100 million in premiums over the last four years.

According to budget reports, they spend between 82 and 92 percent of their total budget on salaries and benefits. They say, “we’re a service organization” – but that’s funny cause they don’t really serve anybody but themselves. If you live in Chico, you know how bad unemployment is here, our 20-somethings are literally living on the streets.  People come from all over the state to attend our college – I’m going to guess, they have the figures, and the local kids just aren’t going to college. That’s what I’m seeing with my kids’ friends, ages 20 – 26.  Most of our friends were able to send their kids to college of some sort, but found CUSD had not equipped their kids for 4 year school.  

Or a job. CUSD dropped their industrial arts programs years ago, they don’t have ROP, they don’t do anything to get kids ready for jobs.

So, when I read they wanted to put $60 per $100,000 evaluation on our homes, my teeth set to grinding and I knew I had to do something.  I detailed the next steps here:

Just try to stop me!

Just in case anybody is wondering, Badges is doing great and I love my new fake wood floor. But that ape is still around, gotta watch him.

After I posted my arguments with the county clerk, I realized it was time to plan letters to the editor of the local daily. I don’t write to the weekly anymore because the editor thinks she’s allowed to edit everybody’s letters.  The daily editor always announces election letter deadlines, and he warns everybody they need to stay on one topic, try to keep it shorter than the usual 250 words, etc.  He has also been running pro-bond  pieces, doing stories a couple of times a week about all the wonderful things the school district was planning with their $152 million. 

He ran my first letter, well ahead of the deadline. When he started doing “analysis” articles of each state and local measure, I wrote him an e-mail to say I was the official opposition of Measure K, and I’d like to be contacted by the reporter when they did the story on this measure.

If you know me, you know I’ve been doing this a long time, and I’ve been on a first name basis with this editor a long time. When he agreed with me, he was very friendly. We discussed family, vacations, even agreed that X was the best band ev-er. 

Yeah, our daily news editor, David Little, admitted to me an early crush on Exene Cervenka. I love her too. I thought I could relate to Dave Little. Unfortunately, he turned out to be one of those people that give me the creeps.

Little started to hold my  letters back a couple of years ago. At one point he refused to print a letter in which I criticized him by name until I removed the criticism. At one point he wouldn’t run a letter because I criticized his kids’ charter school. He admitted to me that he round-filed a letter my husband wrote because he believed I had written it and sent it via my husband’s e-mail. He broke down and ran it under criticism for thinking a carpet layer couldn’t write a complete sentence, but my husband won’t write letters anymore. Not that he doesn’t have opinions – he just doesn’t trust Little to be fair anymore, says he’s paid off.

So, of course he did not have the reporter contact me when they did their pro-piece on Measure K. They took quotes from my arguments against and then called the district shill to comment on my remarks. Wow, talk about a hit piece.

When I didn’t see my second letter within the usual number of days, I wrote old Dick Little a note, asking him why – and I told him about the ginormous typo he was running in  a half page ad – and he responded that I should see my letter within the next couple of days. It appeared. Well thank you for your due diligence to journalism!  

Now I have a reader who tells me he has written a letter against Measure K, sent it two days after mine – it still hasn’t appeared. 

So, we’re up against the school district machine, we’re up against the press machine. Did I tell you who signed the Argument For? The mayor, the chamber of commerce shill, our ex-city manager, a real cast of the elite around town. I’m the “sole opposition.” 

I doubt that. I’ve spoken to plenty of people who hate the school district worse than I do. I’ve got a former school district employee who is filling me in stuff like, fake e-mail accounts, document destruction parties, public employees fired over their refusal to participate in illegal activities, Chico State and city of Chico workers involved in covering up  – wow, it looks like I’ve just scratched the tip of the district iceberg. 

So, that’s what’s been distracting me lately. I’ve still been doing stuff like this every day


This will be a really nice loaf of bread in about an hour and a half.

This will be a really nice loaf of bread in about an hour and a half.

This chicken is salted up and ready to go on the grill tonight.

This chicken is salted up and ready to go on the grill tonight.

I’m glad I decided to oppose this bond. You can’t just lay there and take it all the time, or you end up like Mr. Chicken.








Past, present, future – Now is where it’s at!

I don't know where my grandpa got this campstove, but it was obviously homemade with portability in mind.

I don’t know where my grandpa got this camp stove, but it was obviously homemade with portability in mind.

I went outside yesterday morning and my husband had already built a fire in our old camp stove. Took the chill off.

Do you notice, it doesn’t take any time at all for a cup of coffee to go cold this time of year? 


We still have the mess in our front yard from the two trees PG&E cut down. They even left 20 feet of the cedar trunk standing, that’s going to make an interesting conversation piece – I want to hang bird houses on it.

We had considered a chipper, then realized the wood is quite dry and seasoned, ready to burn. I wouldn’t burn it in my house, but we have the camp stove. It sure makes it easier to get out of bed in the morning – my husband bustles out  there to light it, and I make the coffee. The dogs love it.

And instead of watching the news, or one of the stupid new shows on tv, we clear the dishes after dinner and go outside to light the stove. Makes it a lot more fun to do outside chores. 

Last night my son and his girlfriend brought marshmallows and chocolate and graham crackers, cut some branches from the brush pile, and we made s’mores.  We just sat there for two hours, chatting and staring into the stove. We watched the dead sticks transform into glowing rods, the grow rings shimmering in the heat, we counted – the doug fir was only about 35 years old.

I wonder who planted that little tree, where they are now. Where will I be in 35 years? Where will my kids be? 

What will Chico be like in 35 years? 

I’d rather put those thoughts off, and enjoy The Now. 





How soon we forget the trials of Summer when that first good Whopper rolls in

Holy Boarder! Mt Shasta got some snow out of that storm last night.

NOTE: The ski park cam is not being refreshed, that’s a shot from last year. The Cal Trans cameras show the snow has already melted as of today (Wednesday 10/5).

And here’s the webcam shot for the visitors’ center at Mt. Lassen.

I’ll tell you what’s funny – looks like all of that might be melted off by next weekend!  Weatherman is calling for warm weather again, highs in the 60’s and 70’s.

A fifteen minute storm is a Gully Washer. A half hour storm is a Whopper.  Yesterday we had a series of Whoppers. We were sitting on the patio yesterday evening, watching the lightening show, when it started dumping, then hailing, splattering dirt and tree gunk all over the place. Our gravel pathways ran like little streams, and this morning the debris looked like  bizarre ink blots all around the yard. Today we raked, swept mud off siding, etc. 

I won’t complain too much.  It came on so fast – how long ago was I complaining about the 3-digits? The dirt clouds? 

Oooo, maybe board Shasta or Sugar Bowl for Thanksgiving, yes, I would be most thankful. 


Smoke ’em if you got ’em – fresh trout on sale at Raley’s

Well, this is a fine mess you've gotten us into!

Well, this is a fine mess you’ve gotten us into!

The other day my husband and I went over to Raley’s to look for a few grocery items, and we saw they had “fresh” trout on sale for $4.99 a pound. That’s actually quite good, so we bought a couple and grilled them for dinner. All the while feeling like we should have bought a few more to throw in the smoker. Wow, what a dinner that was, so we went back next day and bought four more nice sized fish to smoke up.

I put “fresh” in quotation marks because I’ve eaten trout after watching them pulled out of a stream or pond, and yeah, that’s different. But these fish were fine enough given we just had to walk into the store and point out the ones we wanted and the man just wrapped them up and gave them to us.

We smoke some salmon almost every year, but we’d never tried trout, so we went to youtube for some mentorship.  We found a good video about boning the fish – my husband used his filet knife to remove the backbone and then lifted out most of the remaining bones all together. It got better as he went along, the fourth fish was easy.

Then he made a very simple dry rub with two cups of brown sugar and a half cup salt.

Ooooo, brown sugar - how come you taste so good?

Ooooo, brown sugar – how come you taste so good?

Spread them out in their sugar bed and then dollop on more sugar.

Spread them out in their sugar bed and then dollop on more sugar. I know, the little eyes are so accusing.

We usually use a lot of water and soy sauce, but look what happens when you set some fish in a “dry” rub overnight.

Fish juice.

Fish juice.

Well, here’s the funny part – after they soak in this solution for 10 – 12 hours, you have to wash them!

Not as bad as bathing Biscuit.

Not as bad as bathing Biscuit.

Still sugary and now stiff at little boards, we laid the fish on raised racks over cookie sheets to dry.

Still sugary and now stiff as little boards, we laid the fish on raised racks over cookie sheets to dry out some.

Okay, here’s a very important part – don’t dump the fish juice down your sink, for mercy sake.

Bucket 'o fish juice!

Bucket ‘o fish juice!

Ha ha, I know, a lot of people think “down the drain” is really going somewhere.  No,  “down the drain” is a short ride into your p-trap – that little p-shaped pipe right there under your sink. That’s where bad smells go to have babies!

We clean our p-trap fairly regularly, cause my husband is a landlord and he has a tool box full of all kinds of weird shit. If you don’t know how to take the pipes under your sink apart and put them back together, here’s a tip – don’t put stinky stuff down your sink!  Save plastic containers with tight fitting lids. Old jars are okay as long as you don’t put hot grease in them. Above you see, we use cottage cheese when we make a calzone, and those containers are dishwasher safe. You can use them to store food, and for disposals such as this.  I have a drawer in my kitchen, just like my grandma and my mom had, to save re-usable containers. It never gets too crowded, because I actually use the stuff.

After the fish had dried for an hour or so, we loaded them into the Little Chief. I won’t picture that here, because I’ve heard it’s racist!

There's that golden brown color you're looking for.

There’s that golden brown color you’re looking for.

They turned out so nice, I may send a picture to New Scandinavian Cooking.  Tasted great, my husband and I stood and ate half a fish at the kitchen counter.  No bones about it!


Letting go – we lost our big tree today

In July I got this snapshot of the moon rising over my big deodor cedar trees.

In July I got this snapshot of the moon rising over my big deodor cedar trees.

I don’t know if you can tell – the smaller cedar on the right is dead. Deader than the proverbial door nail. I never saw anything that big get that dead so fast in my life.

These two trees are at least 80 years old, planted when some long-gone owners of this property originally made their home here. In that 80 years, the neighborhood has  changed  from acres and acres of almonds and walnuts to subdivision after subdivision, rolled out along the north side of Bidwell Park. The farmers had planted big evergreens to shade their houses. The old subdivisions with houses built on half acre or more were planted with shade trees like ash and mulberry. Even those are old now. The new subdivisions are dense and treeless.

These trees have protected our house from severe heat all these years. The yard on the south and west stays shady most of the day, so does the roof. We were shocked earlier this past Spring when we realized the one tree was dying,  it started to turn brown very fast.

By the end of Summer, it stood like a corpse.

By the end of Summer, it stood like a corpse.

Of course we realized, it would cost thousands to take down,  and we lost some sleep anticipating the expense. Then one day we realized, it stood right alongside the power pole. PG&E had to take it down, no other tree cutter would touch it.

So we called them and a guy came over in July, put us on the schedule. Last week the contractor called to set it up. At 8am a crew of two came with their truck and saws and started taking off the lateral branches. They don’t look like much in the photo, but I could hear each one hit the ground  with a WHUMP! and I could even feel a few of them.

Now it’s noon. I started to tear up a little as I watched them take down the trunk.  I had to listen to some Sandy Denny music and weep a little.

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Now I can hear them grinding right through the bottom of the tree. Very professional fellows. They are not paid to remove the trash though – we will be left with the big sections of trunk and all the branches and scraps. My husband looked at renting a chipper, it’s about $300 at Rental Guy. That’s nothing compared to what we would have had to pay to take the tree down ourselves, so we’re happy about it. The kids are excited, my younger son is driving home from school in Reno to spend a day helping us clean up.  My older son is beside himself with glee, all these chips for his Garden of Eatin’.   I’ll  be glad to spread them around the tiny trees I will plant in place of the old cedar.

Fare well, fare well, to you, lonely traveler.


North wind blows in Autumn, brings scratchy, itchy skin


When I went outside this morning the clouds were trying to swallow the moon.

The first day of  Fall is dramatically cooler than a week ago, but still tinder dry. It would be nice if those clouds would bust out a few drops – yesterday I watched the wind  pick up the empty lot next door and shake dirt all over my house.


It was a very bright moon, but the clouds swaddled it in a bundle of mist.

Everything is coated with grit, sometimes I can taste the air. It’s so dry, every night I water and in the morning the ground is parched and cracked again.  One day I noticed the bottom half of my face was doing same – two lines appeared at the corners of my mouth, running down to my chin – I looked like Howdie Doodie.


There it is.

My husband also noticed, his skin was dry too – we both found ourselves laying awake at night, trying to resist the urge to scratch all  over. We could hear own bodies, grating on the bed sheets as we rolled over. My heels were starting to leave a worn spot at the bottom of the sheet.


Peek-a-boo, I see you.

Sometimes I just forget to take care of myself. This time of year, over-showering is bad, especially in hot water. But, a quick cool shower and a rub down with good body oil will help with that dry, itchy, end-of-Summer skin.


Not quite full, but very enthusiastic.

I make body oil with cheap “Euro trash” olive oil I find at Walmart. It smells and tastes fine to me. I add, in thirds, sweet almond oil and apricot kernel oil from NOW foods – I get those through Lucky Vitamin.

That is sufficient, but I get rose hip and vitamin E oil from Lucky Vitamin too, and add about 10 drops of each to a cup of oil. Then I add some scented essential oil – orange, grapefruit, rosemary, and lately my favorite has been pure lime oil. These don’t last all day like perfume, but they’re really pleasant after a shower, and I do notice, the scent hangs around the bathroom because the bottle is in the shower. It’s very invigorating.

I rub in a handful of oil as soon as I turn off the water. Then I dab off any remaining water with a towel. My skin feels oily at first – and very nice! But the oil soaks in  pretty quickly, it doesn’t stain my clothes.

My husband likes a generous portion on his neck and back.  Since he showers at night, this leaves a light stain on our bedsheets, but it washes out.

I can hear a gust of wind working itself up, the leaves are scratching across the dead dirt outside my door, swirling around my patio in drifts.

Fall has fell.