I took my own advice, I spent the last two days outside. My husband and I went up to the hills to cut and stack brush for the chipper crews. Whenever I hear the Butte County Fire Safe Council commercials on tv I get eager to go up and start stacking. I enjoy having the chips for my yard, they are a pretty mix of oak, pine and manzanita.
The manzanita are flowering right now. The tiny flowers are so pretty, like dainty pink tea cups. Manzanita bushes are beautiful, and very interesting. Whole parts of the bush die and become tinder dry, while another section grows and prospers. If there’s enough of it alive we try to prune it – manzanita roots hold the mountain side together like a net. If too much is dead, the whole bush goes. Manzanita is an awesome fuel, it’s the best way to start a fire, inside or out. We cut it carefully and save it for firewood.
I get so hungry when I am working outside. We try to bring food that is easy to heat up on a fire. We went to Chico Locker and got some smoked pork chops. These just need to be heated through. We took a bag of those little yukon gold potatoes. We wrapped those up in three layers of tin foil – careful to poke holes in each tater so they would heat evenly without bursting – and put them in the coals. We wrapped the meat the same way, but didn’t put it as close into the coals. I watched the food, because the heat is uneven and things have to be turned, and Badges doesn’t know any better than steal food out of a fire. The potatoes were done in less than 45 minutes, they’re so small. The meat was sizzling hot in 10 or 15.
The potatoes go really quick if you steam them at home first, but I forgot.
And then we ate camp style, standing around the fire, tossing an occasional piece to the dogs. Badges eats potatoes so fast I don’t know if he realizes what he is eating. Biscuit holds hers against the ground and eats the soft middle, leaving the skin behind.
And then those dam-ned deer came into the driveway again. Biscuit rushed the yard gate and tried to push the latch up with her nose. Hah! Fences make better neighbors, isn’t that the truth!
That inspired one of the neighbors to tell us his horror story – he was walking his big rottweiler, and the dog ran off after some deer. Neighbor is over 60, but you know those hill people are darned tough – he ran after the dog, searched for over an hour. Said he could hear the dog crying, but just couldn’t get a bead on him. Finally found him – in an old mine shaft, 20 feet down!
Did you know, there’s old mine shafts all around the hills – some of them are “breathers”, they go straight down, who knows how far. I don’t think the county has any idea.
So, our neighbor had to get his dog out – I told him, I wish you would call somebody! – but he was in a pickle. He hiked back to get a ladder, then drove the ladder as far as his vehicle would take him, then hiked the ladder in. His dog still whimpered from the hole, very contrite I imagine. He climbed down and got that darned dog, and hauled him out.
Like Ma always said, (I think she had read Shakespeare), “All’s well that ends well.”
You don’t say? Here’s the funny part – he got the dog from a shelter, so it’s a rescue dog.
At this point, I was having an unholy craving for an Almond Joy. There’s something about wood smoke, makes me think of those delicious roasted almonds buried in a mound of coconut and chocolate. It works at my brain like a termite. I also like to go to the old stores up in the hills, always hear a good story as I am pilfering the shelves, looking for discontinued candy bars.
Whoa, I heard a barn-burner yesterday, you know, trying not to eavesdrop on a conversation that is being held from one end of the store to the other. The stuff you hear in a hillbilly store.
I’m always conflicted in these situations – like Harvey Two-Face, I’m of two minds. One mind says it’s rude to eavesdrop, and starts singing stuff like, “Jumpin’ Jack Flash he’s a gas-gas-gas!” The other side of my cranium quickly chirps up, “Stop that racket, I can’t hear what they’re saying!”
So, it’s confusing, with all these conversations going on, but here’s what I’m sure about – there’s a big stink in Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey’s office, involving not only the Feaster/Thomas shooting but a shooting during a marijuana robbery in Paradise. How it is related is very confusing, I can’t give all the details.
See, I couldn’t just confront these people and say, “What the hell are you talking about?” I bought my Almond Joy and hit the door. But they sure got my curiosity up.
What the hell is going on in Mike Ramsey’s office? The media has sure gone silent on this issue. I heard something about a pot robbery and shooting in Paradise, but can’t remember when.
There is speculation that this will force Ramsey out of office. Do tell? So, we’ll have to pay his retirement – will that be 70 or 90 percent of his $200,000+ salary? And who will fill his position? I’m afraid to ask.
What a can of worms. Crawl little worms, bring me some answers!