Forest policy changing with Trump

Those crazy warm temperatures last week had me ready to bust out the summer sheets. Then BAM! back to the 30’s at night, which is much more February-ish.

It’s hard to resist turning on the heater when I wake up in the morning to 59 degrees in the apartment.  It’s been about 34 degrees on the patio. So when I stumbled out of bed yesterday, I turned the oven up to 500 and got a bowl of dough ready for the oven – before I knew it the apartment was warm and smelling fabulous.


Sourdough Bob is the life of every party.

But we have another plan to keep our PG&E bill down to a dull roar – whenever we can we pack up and head for our camp shack in the hills. I always turn off all the power strips on the way out, the only things we leave running are the refrigerator and the chest freezer.

Up here we are working on fire clearance, although it’s been too dry to burn, we wander around the woods with rakes and chain saw, clear “fire breaks”, and make piles for later. Our kids made bike trails around our place years ago, digging out a single track with log jumps and little bridges made of scrap wood. I try to keep that clean with a rake so I can meander around the place and look for good firewood.

After a few good windstorms, I noticed two dead black oaks that were hanging over the trail a little precariously – like arches. When I showed them to my husband he took the chainsaw down the trail and cut them into sections we could drag up the hill to our driveway, cut them up small enough for the stove. They had been standing dead for who knows how long – perfectly cured. 

We spent yesterday wandering the woods for more dead trees, dragging them up the hill, cutting and stacking. My arms feel like Super Play Doh, but I got a very admirable stack of wood for my own stove, and a pile in the back of the truck for our kid and his girlfriend to burn in their new house.  We sent him a picture – we’re so broke right now, that’s his birthday present. 

He’s going to be 27 years old, I can hardly believe that. I was just cleaning out a drawer and found a picture of him wearing a diaper, holding on the side of a garden bed to take his first steps. 

We were holding on to the side of the truck, exhausted, admiring our haul, when we noticed smoke was billowing up in the sky – the light on the ground turned that curious yellow color of forest fire. 

We knew it was a controlled burn because we’d seen the signs all the way back in Chico – “Controlled Burn. Do Not Report” Yeah, they must get sick of fielding those calls. We had seen crews all through Fall and Winter, kids from California Conservation Core and some from the Salt Creek jail facility, slashing and stacking all the way across Butte Creek up toward Paradise.  But we hadn’t seen any of those piles being torched when we drove in. 

The smoke was overtaking the sun.


If we hadn’t seen the signs we would have packed up and got out at this point.

 We sat and watched from our picnic table over lunch, the wind blowing steadily toward Chico. I realize – these people have crews, tools, water trucks – I would never have considered torching a pile at our place in that stiff breeze. 

And then the wind shifted. Before we knew it the woods directly around us were filling with smoke.


The smoke blew right up to our feet.


And then the wind shifted back toward Chico again, just as we were thinking about baling out. We watched the smoke dance in the wind for the rest of the afternoon. But we never smelled it or felt overwhelmed as we continued to chainsaw and rake around our own piles.

I’m glad for this kind of work to be done, it’s long over due. It’s been too politicized with the Obama administration, now I’ve heard Trump is funding these fire safety clearance programs again and that’s fine with me. 



Super Moon still rules the sky

Even on the wane, Super Moon is looking pretty super.

I woke up to find Super Moon winking at me through the bedroom window this morning. And if you look a little harder to the west…

you might be able to see Saturn there to the right of the photo.


Saturn also looked very close this morning, very 3-D. The whole scene was very dramatic, you could see that the sun was just off camera, shining very bright on the round bottoms of Super Moon and Saturn.

Work work work. I am at the wheel these days, I don’t have much time to blog, but I like to share a nice picture now and then.

Got to mau-mau the flak-catchers once in a while

What weird weather – record highs for February, 70 degrees! It’s actually stuffy at night, but we’re keeping the windows shut because the rice and nut farmers are burning their fields and slash piles out on the west side and you never know when the wind will shift.

I don’t mind the farmers – dirt made my lunch, thank you a bunch. When I was a child and my grandfather had to have his field burned, he loaded us into the canned ham and headed to Fort Bragg for a week. We came home to wash the soot off the window sills.

I looked ahead at Accuweather – they are predicting a few rainy days in March, but nothing like the miracle it will take to make up for this dry Winter we’ve had.

No snowboarding for me this year – I play my Dick Dale records and carve around the apartment, cut some imaginary 360’s in the kitchen, do a jump or two out by the laundry line.   I guess I should put my boots on one day just to make sure my feet will recognize them when the time comes.  Heavy sigh…

I’ll  tell you what – I’ve gained 5 pounds, and that means a couple of pairs of jeans won’t button. Damn you Germans and your lebkuchen! Really, it’s my own fault – January is my sleep month, can’t get excited about much of anything.

Although, tomorrow there’s a 3:30 meeting I’m looking forward to – the Local Governments Committee. It’s a  good meeting because it’s a catch-all for issues that are before all the local commissions and boards, from Chico City Council to Butte Stupes to Chico Area Recreation District, and even the mosquito guy will be there.

Did you know, our mosquito board manager makes about $103,000 a year and only pays three percent of his pension?

There are many important issues on the agenda – including a report given by my kindergarten classmate, Dennis Schmidt. It’s  fun to listen to Dennis – he still  talks with a lisp, and his ears stick out just like they did when we were kids – eee-haw! He’s old and grumpy now, and working for the county, which means he’s up to no good about half the time. He’s the guy who raised the fee on pumping septic tanks, and now he wants property owners to be responsible for hiring their own security patrols for Humboldt Road.

Humboldt Road is a public road and a public disgrace – whole sections of asphalt missing. Here’s my guess – the county and the city are playing hot potato with maintenance of that road, since it goes in and out of the city/county. And, there’s so much illegal dumping up there, you’d think you were at the dump. There’s also homeless  camps. Neither the city or the county wants to take responsibility for that stuff, so they are laying it on the property owners? Who pay whopping property taxes. 

So Old Juanita has to get on her high horse and go down there and shame them. That’s about it. And I’ll tell you what – I’m not above making fun of a lisp and big ears and somebody who couldn’t tie his own damned shoes in kindergarten.

I’ll ride my bike, starting getting rid of some of this excess belly fat. 




Changes on the horizon

Super Moon is on the wane after that spectacular show the other morning, but continues to shine brightly all night.  Saturn has taken over the morning sky, like a beacon in the southeast.

We are having unseasonably warm weather for February here in NorCal, and that has me wondering. Driving up Hwy 32 yesterday we saw Lassen shining almost as bright as Super Moon, completely covered with snow. Today we’re supposed to see 70 degrees in the valley and foothills – I worry that when we take our return trip down the hill Lassen will be all melted again!

Let’s check the webcams:

The sun is just coming up over Manzanita Lake – save this link and you can watch it whenever you want.  Right now you can watch Mt. Lassen turn white and glistening in the growing light of dawn.

I’ll have to remember to watch it as sunset some time, you do same.

Right now I’m sitting in my family’s little camp shack, and it’s just chilly enough to have a few sticks going in the stove.  We are spending more and more time here, and it’s great to get away from town.

Especially when there’s a construction site right next door to my apartment there – they’ve finished rebuilding the house that burned down, and are paving the driveway. I had to listen to a bulldozer and watch a truck come this close to hitting my back fence all day Thursday. The sound came right through the walls, as I was trying to work on taxes and other paperwork. My front yard stunk so bad of diesel I brought the dogs in.  

For about 8 months now I’ve put up with a contractor who gives construction workers a bad name. He’s going to be off the property pretty soon, and I’m happy about that. But his constant harassment has ruined our lifestyle in Chico, it’s taken the shine off our apartment there, and we’re probably going to sublet it and move up here, at least temporarily.

 Yeah, my hillbilly friends are all wondering if I can make it up here. We’ll have to see. It’s in my genetic material – my family is from Downieville, and my name is Juanita – GOOGLE IT!

We’ll just have to see what we see.



She rises!


The storms have cleared out, leaving the skies to Super Moon.

Weatherman says clear skies for the next four or five days – perfect setting for Super Moon.

By Wednesday the moon is supposed to be at it’s fullest, and will come very close to the Earth. At sunset the angle of the sun will turn it red, so we will have a Super Blood Moon.  I notice sunset is the best time to view the Super Moon anyway – it looks like it is coming right out of the Sierra. As one giant orb heads for the sea, another giant orb comes flying out of the Earth!

And, by definition,  we a Blue Moon – two full moons occurring in one month.

The sky is really clear after the storms, and the huge flocks of geese are still filing North.  Good night to post a watch in a lawn chair.


Winter and Spring had a SmackDown! yesterday

Someone has been looking for the post I did about Arthur Lobel’s Frog and Toad books. Here’s that link – you used too many words in your search, next time just punch in “frog and toad”.

Cause Frog and Toad are not just for kids, that’s a great story about friendship, enjoy!

And a great story for this time of year, when Spring is busting to get in, but Winter says, “I’m still in here!” – two sisters fighting over the bathroom.

That’s what it looked like here yesterday. One minute gloomy, black skies, threatening clouds, the next minute so bright a dummass like me might hang out a load of wash. And them swooosh! Rain comes pouring down out of a perfectly  sunny sky. 

Yes, I did hang laundry yesterday. Towels. I’d been wanting to do laundry for days.   So I ran out there with my washing and hung it up on the clothesline, where it flapped in a fresh breeze for about two hours, not getting dry maybe, but dry-er.  I like to have them outside for a few hours, and then leave them hanging over the stair railing over night. Instead I found myself bounding out to yank them down. That’s always a comedy, with the dogs yacking me back to the garage.  I would guess it had been raining for about 5 minutes when I noticed the splash on my upstairs window, and they were already so wet I had to run them through the dryer for like a half hour before I could bring them in the house

Dammit! $$$$$$$$$$$$!

As I was running back and forth outside – all morning, really – I saw one after another line of geese moving North, headed for the feeding pools at Tule Lake, I assume. They fly back and forth all day in the early Winter. That’s when you can bag yourself a big fat goose, or maybe a few ducks. But now they are just flying North, all morning, big big lines, sometimes two or three groups tagging each other. When we were up in the hills the other day, we watched them circle and circle and circle in Butte Creek Canyon to get over the Sierra, they have to spiral  themselves up that high. As I watched them through my binoculars it occurred to me what an awesome thing it is they do, every year.

So when I realized this is it, it’s going to rain.  The skies over the mountains were absolutely black.  I went back in the house to make some soup.

I’ve been trying to get in the habit of saving bits of green vegetables – like the core from cabbage or the heart of a head of romaine, celery heart, etc – and making vegetable broth. I keep these bits in a clean ziplock bag and when the bag is full it’s time to make a pot of broth. I wash and sort the stuff and dump it in my big enamel pot. I barely cover it with cold water, add a teaspoon of salt, and put a lid on it. I bring it to a very low simmer and leave it for about an hour. When the vegetables are faded and limp, it’s done. Yesterday I added spinach stems, which gave it an herby smell. 

I  strained out the soggy vegetables, and got about three cups of broth in a second smaller pan, which I brought to a boil. When it was bubbling away, I turned it off and set a raw boneless, skinless chicken thigh in the water, set the lid back on, and left it for 5 minutes. Voila! – that’s French for, “wow, smells like chicken!” 

Then I put the chicken thigh, which is almost cooked on the outside but still raw on the inside, into the first pot, where I had sauteed some onions and garlic with a little oil. As I sauteed the chicken I cut it up with a fork and knife. This is how my husband cooks taco meat. Somehow it’s different than cutting it up raw and putting it in the pan.  

To this I add about a quarter cup of cheap white wine. When the chicken still looks a little raw, I add the broth and get it going to a gentle simmer. Now I add chopped carrots and celery. In about a half hour I put in some egg noodles from the store, or maybe I have some homemade pasta leftover. Within 10 minutes it’s ready to eat.

I did this while I was working on my taxes – very soothing! By the time my husband came in from work, cold and wet (he did a job in the hills today, where it snowed), the aroma had made it down stairs to the front door – Welcome Home Honey!  We washed up and brought the dogs in and sat down for a hot bowl of soup. 

So we sat looking out the window at the two sisters fighting, treetops swaying, clouds of different colors moving in a swirl. We had Kris Kuyper on the tube, and he said there had been a funnel cloud spotted over O-ville! 

Yeeeee-haw Babee! Welcome to Northern California!