Just try to stop me!

Whenever I set my mind to do something, it just seems that all of Nature conspires against me. When I heard the school district was going to float a $152,000,000 bond, I felt I had to do something about it.  I decided to write an “Argument Against” for the ballot pamphlet.

And then life around my house started going, as my dad would put it, “completely ape-shit.”

I always hesitate to commit myself to anything involving a time schedule, because I know the ape will insert himself and try to prevent me from fulfilling my obligation, or at least make it very, very hard.  So, I try to keep my life simple, unscheduled, try not to make any promises what-so-ever.  But when I see something on the horizon that spells trouble ahead, I look for something I can do. Did you know, any individual who is eligible to vote in the election is allowed to submit an “Argument Against” for consideration in the voter’s pamphlet?

The school district has been talking loudly about needing to make repairs at various schools, whining about playground equipment in disrepair, leaky roofs, peeling paint – but quietly, they were talking about increasing pension costs and declining enrollment. I won’t blame the district entirely – this information is in the agendas and the minutes, but it seems neither the media nor the public at large is interested enough to look at it.  All I had to do was ask for the budget, which told me everything I needed to know – like CARD, the school district has “deferred maintenance” of their facilities – actually, our facilities, which we have put in their care – in  favor of spending 10’s of millions on their own pensions and benefits. I couldn’t walk away from that.

The deadline to submit measures for the ballot was sometime earlier this summer, so I watched the county clerk’s website. Finally “Measure K” popped up.  The clerk gave me a deadline to submit my “Argument Against” – August 19, 5pm. The instruction booklet is on the clerk’s website –  300 word limit, no cussing, no spitting, no lying, and leave two inches at the top for the clerk’s stamp.

Given the number of 250 word letters to the editor I’ve written over the last 20 or so years, this was a piece of cake. I  just argued against the claims made in the measure, adding that district taxpayers were already being hit with utility increases. I made my Argument Against, learned some new stuff about Microsoft Word and my printer, and turned it in with almost a week to spare.

The clerk  told me I’d receive the “Argument For” on Friday afternoon, after the deadline passed.  At this point the Ape stepped in – I began  to have “service interruptions” on my computer. I received an e-mail from the clerk  that she had tried to send me an  attachment but it had  come back  on her. I decided I would have to go back to Oroville to pick it up on Monday, but over the weekend, the attachment magically popped up in my e-mail box, and I was off and running on the rebuttal.

But here’s where the Ape really got his foot in the door – my dog Badges started to act sick. Sheesh, have you people heard enough about my dogs yet?

Badges is normally a pint-size energy pack and has an appetite to match.  Suddenly he didn’t want to play or eat. And, we noticed,  he was having a terrible time going to the bathroom, really constipated. We worried he’d eaten a piece of baseball skin, or a stick that got stuck, so we watched and watched, wondering when we should try to get him into the vet.  Trying to keep up with my chores and the little ditty I wanted to write for the clerk,  I watched him from my kitchen window, I followed him around the yard, or he trailed at my husband’s heel, and my husband watched him. All the sudden he went out onto the lawn and took a messy dump – you know I was all  over it.

I’ll spare you the real details,  but we were happy, frankly, to find a big chunk of plastic from some sort of lid – he must have been in the garage when my husband was sorting recycling.

His behavior changed immediately, he wanted food alright. We put a little rice in his chicken to help get rid of the diarrhea, and he ate it all up, wanted more. We decided to watch him longer before we obliged. That evening he was himself again, really playful, wanted petting, wanted to go for a ride in the car, etc.

So, we went to bed, trying to tell ourselves everything was alright. I’m still jumpy after all that diabetes stuff with Biscuit. And, they still sleep in the house at night since we found we have a serial skunk.

I woke up the next morning with more than enough  time to work on and turn in my rebuttal, I  was feeling pretty confident. I’d read the district’s Argument For a few times and had some good information from the budget.   I felt pretty good.

And  then my husband rolled over and said, “What’s that smell? Did you leave the stove burner on or something?” At almost exactly that moment I was turning on the living room light. I was worried that maybe the gas was running, but as soon as the lights went on I could see the source of the smell – “oh my  Goddddddd! Badges crapped all over the living room!” 

Poor Badges, I think it had just happened, he was running around in circles as though something had him by the ass. He wanted out alright, so I let him – I swear, at this point, I was more worried about him than the rug, my husband’s a flooring installer and one of our best friends is a flooring salesman.

I was so afraid Badges was really sick. I wandered out into the 4:30 am darkness and there he was, running up to me for pets, as if nothing had happened. He seemed relieved  again, like before – this wasn’t any comfort, I thought, there’s more plastic stuff in there, it’s moving around tearing up his little guts!

My husband was already out of bed, surveying the damage. The first thing we had to do was get it cleaned up, just so we could move around the apartment. Having cleaned up after Biscuit when she was sick, we had all the stuff we needed – a box of vinyl  gloves, a bundle of store-bought rags, a couple of bottles of enzyme cleaner, stain remover and smell remover.  This stuff is pretty good, it worked quickly on the smaller spots. But a big spot over in the corner had soaked all the way through, and nothing was going to get rid of it. My husband had at first thought he could cut the spots out and replace them – we have a very common “apartment grade” carpet, easy to patch. But no, the entire rug was a disaster site, had to gooooo.

So much for my plans to tilt at windmills. I spent the rest of the day moving furniture and helping my husband  and son get the carpet out of the living room. We shop-vac’d the sub-floor for what seemed like hours  and then I sprayed it with bleach. We went to bed like the walking dead.

The dogs slept outside, and didn’t even question it.

Probably the most productive thing I did was clean off my desk, route through old meeting minutes and notes, which I sorted out and set in files in my filing cabinet.  I usually put these things in one of those plastic file caddies on my  desk, just shove them in there, and then dig through when I want something – some things get forgotten. I just happened to find the old survey that CARD sent out in, what, 2012? Not sure, I’ll have to look at it again.  That survey asked people to put a hundred or so dollars on their homes to fund CARD, and it came back “negative,” according to the consultant, who got $25,000.

So, good thing my dog shit all over my living room, or who knows when I would have gone through the paperwork on my desk. My desk all cleared, my husband set our computer up in the bedroom for me, so I could work on the argument while he and my son went about replacing our living room floor.

Of course I couldn’t forget Badges, although, his behavior was perfectly  normal, the diarrhea sure wasn’t. So I kept the dogs next to my desk chair and took them out at regular intervals, following Badges around the yard as he looked at me over his shoulder like some Peeping Tom.

Pay Day  came later that afternoon when he produced a very nice  pile of well-shaped and good-colored turds. Excuse me  – at least I didn’t take a picture. Since that day,  I am still fixated with watching him poop, looking for the slightest irregularity.

It was Tuesday and I needed to get the rebuttal to O-ville by Thursday. We had a bunch of stuff to do that week, and we wanted to make a Friday trip to Reno to take supplies to our kid. He’s enrolled at UNR, and living in a very nice student housing complex near the campus. He had forgot some odds and ends when he moved a couple of weeks ago, and we were also anxious to go down and see how he’d settled in. First we had to get the rebuttal to O-ville, and then we had an appointment at the vet Thursday to get Biscuit’s glucose checked.

Well, that is where the ape managed to assert himself again – Biscuit’s glucose reading was 100 points above normal. I don’t know what that means because our vet isn’t exactly a bubbling fountain of information. It seems as soon as we started ordering Biscuit’s insulin online instead of paying the vet twice as much per bottle, we were put on the “we see you but we don’t acknowledge you” list. I’ve had to talk to the vet, even when she’s standing right in front of me, by way of her receptionist, Doc won’t even look at me. For the glucose test we get one or another intern. They are nice, but one of them walked into S&S Market one afternoon and told a friend of mine who checks there that she hadn’t been to bed for over 24 hours.  So, I’m supposed to trust this gal to take a blood test on my dog? It was very upsetting. We were told, very cheerfully, to come back in next week for another test. In the meantime, she upped the insulin, which is a concern to me – I’m still not convinced she did the test right.

So, yeah, we have gone out and bought a human glucose tester and we’ve been trying to learn how to use it on our dog. We’ll probably order a pet tester to use for calibrating the human tester, but the pet test strips are about 4 times as much as the human ones, as you’d expect. Seems the veterinary world is out to make money, so much for “All About Pets”.

What’s really frustrating is, Biscuit was acting perfectly healthy and happy before we took her to the vet.

So, guess who came to our rescue – Walmart. Not only to they have everything you need for human diabetes at the store here in town, we can order the pet tester and supplies for a reasonable price through their online store.

And yes, I got my rebuttal off to O-ville, the clerk counted it and checked it and stamped it. When I went to the website I found my Argument Against has been posted, they should be posting the rebuttal tomorrow.  You can also read the Argument For and, when it’s posted, the rebuttal to my Argument Against.

The ape still hangs around my door. We’ll see what he has in store for me today. 





It’s just that time of year for poor air quality, bad smells, flies, and other pests – and I’m not even talking about the election!

This morning as we were opening windows around the apartment, my close friend and constant companion Arthur Itis complained we’d just be shutting them in a couple of hours, why bother?

He’s probably right. The air quality index is laying somewhere  between zero and negative seven. There are wildfires burning all over California, a couple in Nevada.  And then there’s car pollution – Chico is a traffic mess, especially now that school is back in session.

But the apartment gets soooo stuffy, and there’s a couple of hours in the early morning, before the sun comes up, when the air is sweet and cool, gets the garbage-and-farts smell out of the house.

I don’t remember any Summer my dogs have been in the house so much. As soon as the red stuff hits about 99, we bring them in. I don’t remember the last Summer we’ve had so many days over 100, with lows in the high 60’s. Biscuit is a pretty tough old dog, but if we’re in here under the vents, why should she be out there in the heat? Besides, if we don’t bring her in, she hits the door real hard with her paw, she’s scratched the paint off in that corner. At the turn of the latch she noses that door in and flops down in the corner right behind it. She’ll lay there for hours, playing dead if anybody wants to come in or out, but perking up quickly at the mention of “ball” or “kibble”.

Badges is a wheedler. He comes in and lays down in the doorway, but within minutes you hear that tag jingling as he sneaks his way up the stairs, one by one. If he hears me approaching he immediately lays down on a stair, lays his chin on folded paws and pretends to be asleep. A couple of minutes later he’s nudging at my elbow for petting. “Go lay down, hair bomb.  What have you been rolling in, there’s stickers in your collar!” I have to wash my hands after patting him on the head, he’s so dirty. About every other day I run the vacuum around the house and dump out enough hair to make another little dog.

Yesterday I sprinkled baking soda on the stairs carpet and worked it in a little with a dry scrub brush. I let it sit for about 20 minutes, and then I went after the stairs with the shop vac. That is Arthur’s favorite job, he uses language from another planet. But, even  Arthur had to admit, the stairs smelled a lot better. So  then we put a big dollop of soda in some warm water and washed the vinyl entry way, door, walls, etc. Had to employ the elbow grease just inside the door where Biscuit rubs against the wall coming in, making a big brown dirt streak.  It all smelled better, and the walls are positively shiny.

We got some new neighbors, and as friendly as they are, they have brought chickens on the property again. It’s been the same as before, when the previous neighbor had chickens.  About a week after the girls’ first appearance, the flies started to pick up.  Michelle, a nice but stupid lady, does not clean the coop, she just throws down straw every now and then, creating a perfect incubator for flies, all that urine soaked straw and poop. Keeps the ground a perfect temperature to hatch out the little eggs and then there’s all that food for the maggots.

Like our previous neighbor, Richard, Michelle got really offended when we tried to talk to her about natural pest control – we got a pamphlet from our vet and gave it to her.  “We don’t have flies,” she insisted. We didn’t want to waste anymore time trying to reason with her, so just went out and got fly traps. These are cellophane bags with a plastic neck that allows flies in but not out. They are loaded with a smelly powder – just add water and they stink like a dead horse. We hang them just out of our own radius, and they attract Michelle’s flies away from our living area. We get them for about $3.50 at Lowe’s, they last about a month before they are so full of dead flies they don’t work anymore. It’s worth the money, frankly, to keep the swarms off the dogs and to not have to deal with idiot neighbors. 

Of course, garbage cans can work like big fly traps.  If you don’t wrap your trash well, you could actually be breeding flies. According to Orkin, a fly egg develops into an adult fly within six days – well within the weekly trash pick-up schedule. Furthermore, maggots can attach themselves to a surface, such as the inside of a garbage can, while they develop into adult flies. These are brown and blend in easily to a dirty surface.

Excuse me for knowing so much about flies, but living next to back yard chicken farmers has forced me to become somewhat of an expert because these people never seem to be very knowledgeable or cooperative. Trying to be a considerate neighbor myself, I’ve always wrapped the heck out of our household trash, especially meat scraps.  We also save really messy meat scraps or containers of grease in our freezer until trash day, so they aren’t sitting out there stinking all week. And, every few weeks, as soon as they start to stink at all, I take the trash and recycling cans in on collection day and give them a good going over with Comet scrubbing powder and an old scrubber brush, inside and out. 

And here’s a trick we learned from friends who live in bear country – tape a dryer softener sheet to the underside of the can lid.  I don’t care for those myself, I can see where flies and other pests- let’s not forget the meat bees! – would steer clear of them. I tried making my own repellent from essential oils but nothing is quite as obnoxious as those dryer softener sheets.

Something I’m always on my tenants about is overloading garbage cans, leaving that lid propped open. That’s an invitation to not only flies and bees but rats and other varmints.  Ever stare down an adult raccoon in your driveway in the wee hours of the night?  They make their rounds, they seem to know when the trash cans are out in various neighborhoods.  Even a pile of old cardboard boxes will attract these type of pests, who carry diseases that you or your pets can catch.  If your household can’t fit your weekly refuse into a 96 gal trash can, you might want to take a good hard look at your lifestyle, something might need to give. You may just have to pay for another can. 

Now’s the time to look for everybody’s favorite house guests – ants. After they raided us good a  few years ago, we learned to keep a good margin of space clean around our house, keep leaves from piling up, etc. Every now and then I move the container plants on the patio to look for ants’ nests. I read online that they like to nest under stuff like that, so I went right outside that minute and moved a big container next to our front gate to find a very lively nest. The little bee-atches were moving right up the plumbing in the corner of the house, to my kitchen upstairs. As soon as I sprayed that nest, they were gone and I haven’t had a problem inside the house again. 

The trees are shedding and leaves are piling up all around our house. Once we found a nest in our tenant’s rain gutter, they were doing a fast conga across the carport roof and into the wall. She was going nuts cleaning her apartment, but they just kept coming.  As soon as we cleaned the leaves out of the rain gutter and sprayed the nest, they were gone and she never had a problem again.

This is the time of year for smells and flies and ants. Pretty soon the wind will change and we’ll get some relief.






Fledging the biddies

One more weekend with my younger son, then off to school Monday, Spit Spot!

I been through this Empty Nest business, I don’t want to get into that pit again, but I’ll say, enjoy your parenthood while you can. I do not want to hear you complaining about doing their laundry or the food bills or their friends hanging around.  I like being a mom, it’s what I’ve been doing for 25 years, and I’m probably going to keep doing it until I circle into the grave, like an old dog looking for a bed.


My kids have their problems, and it always feels good when they call me or my husband to talk about it. It also feels good when they call – or better yet, send a funny picture via cell phone – to say things are going good, ask us what we are doing. Sometimes I can tell, they just miss us.

Warms the cockles of my frozen old heart, yes it does.

One thing I worry about is do they eat right.  I hate to be a nag, you know me. Luckily my older son and his girlfriend put a lot of energy into gardening and eating fresh foods, and they even get their meat from local producers. They send us pictures of meals, and we send them pictures of meals – it’s the next best thing to eating with your kids or friends, share pictures of some wonderful meal you’ve come up with, and then another of yourselves shoveling it in at the table.  

The younger one is learning to cook for himself, but admits, when he has money, he finds it very tempting to eat out. He likes the sit-down restaurants, the family style joints, but still remembers being up all night with his girlfriend when she got sick after a meal at a restaurant. Sometimes, it’s not a matter of e-coli or salmonella, it’s just a matter of badly made –  maybe too much of some rich ingredient, like creme or some spice.  Of course that made them think more about cooking for themselves – nothing gets your attention like fear of food poisoning, you know, RIGHT NOW! 

You can’t teach your kids everything – I love those public service ads about brushing your teeth for two minutes – in comparison, parents try to tell their kid every important lesson of life in two minutes. I got it – we all brush our teeth for two minutes now, but I can’t train them for every situation that comes around the pike.

Oftentimes I’m relieved how well they handle a situation on their own – wing it, like baby birds.  The other day my older son casually told me about a problem he was having with a neighbor, but didn’t know how to approach the person. When he told me what it was, I realized – I would have got mad if my neighbor did that too.  We talked for a long time about what’s okay to put up with, when a neighbor or friend is worth a little more trouble, etc.  I was impressed that my son was putting himself in other people’s shoes, he tried to see the neighbor’s point of view, and decided – if it’s that bad, move away, otherwise, mitigate, learn to live with it.

Last year my younger son was “dorm cop” at his school living facility. They call it “community advisor.”  You never know what to expect out of a new job, I tried to put aside irrational fears. But the stuff that happened was beyond anything I could imagine – one boy taking hallucinogenic drugs and going on a tirade in the middle of the night, breaking light fixtures off the walls in the dorm, screaming and yelling and being combative with friends.  My son and other students called the police, then my son went out into the hallways and followed the boy and his friends from a safe distance, watching the police arrive and take the boy, who was subdued at the sight of the cop cars, off to a local hospital. My son had to go to the police station, as a representative of the school, to file a report about the incident.

Another time, he and a couple of other students had to go to the police station to report that one of the dorm residents had simply disappeared, they hadn’t heard from him, and were worried. The police handled them nicely, but they were kept waiting at the cop shop for hours. They boy was found to have got drunk and been arrested  another town over, too embarrassed to call his folks, he was still  cooling his heels in a jail cell. 

I felt bad  for the parents of these kids, but we’ve had horrible tragedies in Chico, I hate to recount the stuff that’s happened just over the past few years. I just feel lucky, my kids keep close, they talk to us.

One day I watched a brood of phoebe birds fledging in my back yard, it pricked at my heart, it was such a human scene. The bird parents fed the babies at first, but suddenly they started flying away when the biddies approached, refusing their desperate little pleas. They still sat by, always close, sometimes leading the babies to their favorite perches, showing them how. Slowly the babies caught on, the air was full of SNAP-ing beaks. But one little tyke, bless its heart, still screeched along after the parents, begging and begging. The parents refused it again and again.  Its little wings seemed so inadequate for the squatty fluffy body.

At one point, it landed in the windowsill where I sat at my desk, and began to pick bugs from a spider’s web. I was impressed with the ingenuity, just when its energy was flagging, the little wings seemed to be giving  out.  After that quick meal, it seemed renewed, the tone of its little screech was different. Little phoebe flittered out into the herb garden, and grabbed a yellow butterfly.   Then, still a clumsy little fledge, it floundered onto a valerian branch  and sat with the yellow wings sticking out the corners of its mouth. After a moment or two the wings dropped away, the rest of the bug was swallowed,  and the last I saw of the little bird was a flurry of fluff. 

I don’t want my sons to flitter away. I like them to go out in the world and come back home to roost a little. 





Star gazing, eating apples, squeezing melons, and mau-mauing the flakcatchers – Juanita’s been busy

When I went outside this morning I saw Orion finally pulling himself up over my neighbor’s trees, like a giant peering into my windows. Betelgeuse was bright red and blinking. The Sisters were sparkling like a little tiara, and Taurus’ red eye glowered down on Orion. A crowd of celebrities tinkled all around them, the moon having business elsewhere.

The last couple of nights have been tough – Arthur’s been sleeping over with us, Arthur Itis.  He’s literally a pain in the neck. When he can’t sleep, he sits next to my bed and whines and complains until I get up to keep him company. He actually makes a pretty good cuppa java, I’ll give him that.

I been working on the usual things – I write myself a note – “pick _______ today.” The tomatoes are coming around again, and we have green apples getting ripe now too. This is the time of year I have a hard time deciding, should I work inside or outside today? The temperatures have been so nice, we’ve been outside almost all day lately, coming in to lay under the fans when we need a break, eating chips and salsa, watching “A-Team” on the boob tube.

At this time of year, we have given up weeding, and the garden is a mystery patch. 

Look what we found in the crabgrass that has overtaken the melon beds.

Look what we found in the crabgrass that has overtaken the melon beds. Welcome to the Melon Nation.


Look what was hiding in the crabgrass that has overtaken the melon beds.

So ripe and sweet – I’m sorry I don’t have “Smellaround” on the camera.

Yesterday my husband brought in a payload of melons. We ate one, put another in the fridge, and then I cut the others into pieces and put them in a ziplock bag in the freezer.

I always try to shove these waaaay back in the freezer, forget about them, give myself a little surprise in January.

I always try to shove these waaaay back in the freezer, forget about them, give myself a little surprise in January.

We stripped our tiny Fuji apple tree, a good enough crop of sweet little apples.

Here's some nice Fuji's - I have about the same amount stowed away in the refrigerator drawer.

Here’s some nice Fuji’s – I have about the same amount stowed away in the refrigerator drawer.

Those will get eaten pretty fast, but I couldn’t resist throwing a few in the juicer.

I juiced  some Fuji's with a some "baby carrots".

I juiced some Fuji’s with  some “baby carrots”.

I found a 2 lb bag of “baby carrots” (which my husband reminds me are just big carrots put through a peeling machine) at Cash and Carry for the same price Safeway sells the 1 lb bag, so took a chance and bought them. It seemed like an awfully big bag, I was afraid they would go bad before I could use them.  Nope, we polished off the whole bag without any losses. They’re just too damned convenient!  We ate them on salads, juiced them, and chopped them up for the dogs’ food, so the bag went fast. I’ll have to pick up another bag next time, carrot juice is the nectar of the gods.

So, I told you I was going to get out there and do something different – yesterday I went up to O-ville and turned in an “argument against” a bond the school district has put on the ballot. I know, people think I’m nuts to consider that kind of stuff fun and interesting, but I’ll have to tell you all about it over at Chico Taxpayers. 


Those last lazy days

This morning as I poured myself a cup of coffee I noticed a very bright and wildly  sparkling red star out my window. Wandering out into the yard for a better look, I could see it was Aldebaran. I squeezed my old eyes together, and there was Taurus bearing down on Orion, who was cowering behind my neighbor’s ash trees. 

The Naked Ladies are blooming all over my yard while everything else is drying up and dying.

These narcissus pop up in the funniest places in my yard.

These narcissus pop up in the funniest places in my yard, so out of place among the dried up leaves and frowsy spider webs.

But there are other nice surprises.

These are very sweet and smooth.

The crab grass had overgrown the vines so badly my husband was actually surprised when he found all these lovely Charentais melons.

My husband planted several varieties of melons from seeds he bought out of the Baker Creek heirlooms catalog.  He put a lot of time into making good beds for them and now it’s paid off. It’s great to see my family stand around the kitchen counter slurping up melons.  If we can’t eat them fast enough I’ll be sure to cube one up and put it in a freezer bag. The melons I froze last year tasted incredible in January when the garden was dead and buried.

Another lazy afternoon treat is a big bowl of salsa.

These peppers are sweet and add some crunch.

These peppers are sweet and add some crunch.

Ah the end of Summer, the old panic sets in. In my mind I am still 8 years old and dreading the first day of school – now because I am left behind instead of going off alone. The world  seems dreary and repetitive, the chores neverending, the days too short. A week ago I wondered how I would make it through another 3-digit day, now I wish I could have put one of those days in a jar, save it for January.

This lazy week will pass and the chores will pile up pretty soon –  get the boy off to school, the flurry of Fall clean-up, and then, battening down for Winter. 

For now, I like to sit and watch tv with the family, eat a bowl of salsa, talk about swimming.



Summer – get it while it’s hot!

This is where a lot of my mornings begin.

This is where a lot of my mornings begin.

You might have noticed, the days are incrementally cooler. The sun is sliding away, Summer is making her slow exit. 

I know, because our tiny bathroom window faces East. In July when the sun is at it’s apex, it hits that window really hard for a couple of hours in the early morning. It gets very uncomfortable in there about 6:30, that bright light hitting the toilet like a spotlight. I’m glad I quit drinking, cause I can’t even imagine having to sit on that crapper with a hangover, the sun slapping you in the face like a cheap detective. That room gets so hot I hang a dark towel over the curtain rod, and shut the door to keep the heat ( and the ambiance) out of the rest of the apartment. 

Scuse me for sharing, but our little bathroom is my almanac. The subtle changes of season are very apparent in that little east-facing room, brutal almost. So, I noticed a couple of weeks ago, the sun has slipped back over behind our neighbor’s tree, and does not shine so bright in that room anymore. I had mixed feelings – sure, it’s nice to not break out in a sweat as soon as you step out of the shower, but yeah, I miss Summer already. 

This week my husband stripped the tomato vines in our garden of all the ripe fruit. There is new green fruit, but it’s not coming nearly as fast as it was a month ago.  I don’t have to make tomato sauce every other day anymore.  Good thing, cause my feet were about to walk out on strike.

This is what my feet look like most of the day.

This is where my feet spend a lot of the day.

This Hungarian Heart set my scale off balance. The last numbers I saw were 28 (ounces).

This Hungarian Heart set my scale off balance. The last numbers I saw were 28 (ounces).

All meat too.

All meat too.

Getting potted before noon - what will the neighbors say?

Getting potted before noon – what will the neighbors say?

The tomatoes had me so busy I forgot my raggedy old grape vines. They don’t look like much, but one day I looked under there and found a bonanza.

This is the last batch of grapes off our beat up old vines. Some of them are a little withered but I'll take whatever juice I can get.

This is the last batch of grapes off our beat up old vines. Some of them are a little withered but I’ll take whatever juice I can get.

The grapes are good this year, the juice is really sweet. So far I have got two pints and I think I’ll get at least two more out of this last bowl.  My family likes to drink it straight, I use it in my smoothies. 

I label these, because in the dark garage freezer they look like tomato sauce.

I label these, because in the dark garage freezer they look like tomato sauce.

I think the heat and drought make the grapes sweeter. 

Was it Nietzsche or Conan who said, “That which does not kill you will only make you stronger” ?  Whoever it was must have spent a Summer in Northern California. This past heat wave, I’ll tell you what – that was Hot. Almost a week over 100 degrees, every day, that’s Hot. Three days in a row, the mercury on the old KIST! thermometer hit SMACK-dab on 110.  The heat accumulates in the ground, the nighttime lows get up around 70 and higher, and we find ourselves putting our pillowcases in the freezer (great idea, btw). Now that it seems to be passing, wow, do those 90’s look really good or what?!

This is what total relaxation looks like.

This is what total relaxation looks like.

We’ve been spending more time outside the last couple of days. I’ve rediscovered my “relaxation station”. 

I like to watch the sun set as reflected in our oaks trees, it's like a symphony of color.

I like to watch the sunset as reflected in our oaks trees, it’s like a symphony of color.

Every year at this time I suddenly feel desperate to wring the last bit of Summer out of every day.


At least it’s a dry heat!


Where the hell  is Chico?

Looking down on Chico from Hwy 32, you can see, air quality is pretty bad.

When Biscuit and I stepped out onto the patio about 3pm, the KIST! thermometer registered a nifty 110. Oooooo!

We had a nice drive up to Forest Ranch this morning, bolted out the door by 7:30, trying to catch the breeze off Butte Creek Canyon before it turned oven hot. The dogs like to have a walk, but here the sidewalks turn hot by 9am.  We enjoy the winding hillside trails, we stay in the shade, watch out for big snakes and ticks.  

On the way home, we could see – apparently, the smoke from recent wildfires has settled down on top of Chico. Yecccchhhh.

So here we are now, enjoying an episode of “A-Team” on the boob box, waiting for some tomato sauce boil down, grind some flour to make bread tomorrow.  These days, we get up at 5 so we can  get something done before the heat sets in. 

I know, I’m getting so boring. Going to have to do something exciting. I’ll keep you posted.