Smack Down! over, Spring wins on TKO

I think the Smack Down! may be over now – everything is heavy with pollen, the skeeters are hanging around the door, and the hyacinth is blooming.


Here’s what they looked like in January.   I’ve been waiting and waiting for flowers.




Purple asparagus.


Don’t go out there without a mask – Home Depot has a big box of 30 for about $21, and if you take care of them, you can use them a few times before they get tossed. Very much worth it. One morning I noticed my nose was actually swollen, and I haven’t gone out without a mask since. 

Life is whacko around here lately, as we try to move most of our lifestyle to a shack in the woods, and sublet our apartment in town. 

We aren’t really leaving Chico, we’re just going to be spending less time here. We will still have a little room with a half bath, where I can keep my desk and business records, with a toilet to use when we come to mow lawns and scrape paint and whatever. 

We’ll be living in a much smaller space, so we pick and choose what we take, what stays here in storage, and what goes to the thrift store. I was able to get rid of a few things on craigslist, but if I can’t get at least $50 it’s not worth the hassle.

We get Sacramento TV at the shack, with our little coat hanger antenna, and I been watching this show I’ve never seen before – Auction Kings! I found out, another word for “hoarder” is “picker”.  A “picker” is a “hoarder” who sells the stuff.  

I’ve learned my lesson – just get rid of it. 

Well, the sun is lighting the redwood trees along my neighbors’ fence, time to get cracking. 




Good weather for cookies

My son’s visiting so I made him a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough to take home. 

The best chocolate chip cookie recipe I have is from the back of a box of Arm and Hammer baking soda.


In the neverending battle against hoarding, I’ve been organizing all my recipes on 4 x 6 cards so I can fit them in a little file box, getting rid of a pile of scraps and old cookbooks with only one good recipe.

It makes a big batch.


One of these square containers holds at least two dozen cookies – maybe a dozen and a half if you like them big. 

I like the square containers because they freeze well, stacked up in the corner or even the door rack of the freezer.


Very ergonomic.

The frozen dough pops out and can be cut with a knife, into whatever size cookies you like. 

I also like these little containers because they come free with take out food from Bacio’s over on Park Avenue. Bacio’s has a neat little deli-style counter – entrees and sides and desserts! All there in the case for your mouthwatering inspection, choose whatever portion, eat it there, or have it packed into whatever size container. They have meat and meat-less entrees and sides, changing the selection pretty daily. But you can usually get some meatloaf if you get your hiney in there early. 

But back to the cookies.


You can’t turn your back on a plate of cookies around here.

They are very light and fluffy, I’ll have to admit, it’s impossible to resist. 






Yesterday I drove to Winter and back

My husband and I drove over to Reno to follow our son back to Chico – his truck has been acting up and it’s some pretty rough country between here and there. We left our house at about 8am, birds tweet-tweeting and flowers blooming in the yard, and by noon we were standing in the freshly plowed parking lot at his apartment complex, admiring the complex artworks of melting snow that festooned the metal roofed parking shelters.

Highway 70 is always a swell ride, wherever you’re going. We left town on Hwy 99 and headed up past Butte College campus on Durham Pentz, cutting over to Hwy 70 just below Yankee Hill. It started to rain as we passed the campus, and we wondered what was ahead. Weatherman had assured us the worst was scheduled for Friday night, and that the skies would be clearing over Saturday. 

As we left Yankee Hill and hit the Feather River canyon, we could Winter rolling down the mountains in front of us.

But Winter and Spring continue their Seasonal SmackDown! As we rounded the bend below Pulga Road, we could see snow flying ahead. 

A few minutes later…

Winter flung her best at us – rain, snow, hail…

Here’s the famous railroad line that runs through the canyon – Feather River canyon is a favorite of miniature train enthusiasts.

I love Hwy 70 for it’s beauty, but one wrong move Babee, and you’re DEAD. The water is deep and fast and very, very cold this time of year.  The road runs right along the river for many miles – with no safety rail for many miles – and it’s narrow and twisting. On the other side of the road you have the rock wall – at one point my husband and I came across a motorist who had just swerved off the highway and caused a small rock slide. Rock slides are a constant threat – last year the road was closed for a couple of months when a giant boulder slid right through the road, leaving a big gap. They had to blast out the canyon wall to fix it. 

I  try not to think about it, and my husband reminds me – Hwy 80 is not only snowy and treacherous, there are a lot of other drivers. We’ve seen stupid animal behavior cause huge wrecks and shut-downs right in front of or behind us on Hwy 80, we don’t use that highway unless it’s the only way to get somewhere. 

So I hum a happy tune and enjoy the scenery on 70.

Here’s the abandoned mill just below Quincy. The big slash on the mountain side is for power lines. PG&E essentially owns the canyon and the river, with several power houses still generating a lot of electricity there.

Mining, logging and PG&E dominate this area. The old power houses are worth a look – I’m sorry I didn’t get photos of those, they are beautiful, built with rock from the surrounding area. There’s great camping in the canyon, and it’s a destination for kayak enthusiasts.


Here we are in Downtown Quincy California, there’s the court house to the left. Quincy has some neat restaurants and one of the best museums in the Gold Country.

There are half dozen or so little towns/resorts along the road, the biggest being Quincy and Portola. 

These were mill towns, and the old houses give their main streets a lot of character. Here’s a neat little house in Portola that stands out in the snow.

There’s a lot of history along this road – stop in Beckworth, you can see Jim Beckworth’s cabin. It’s closed his time of year, but you can look at it here:

But if you really want to know about Jim Beckwourth, read one of his autobiographies, he is our Daniel Boone. I think his life story inspired  parts of “Little Big Man” by Thomas Berger, but I’m just guessing. 

After Portola we hit the high plains, and the weather really started coming at us. 

This is neat little valley near the California border that is nothing but hay fields and cows in Summer. At some ranches the hay barns were full and cows milled around the barn. I wonder if their feet get cold.

The road turned very icy here, visibility shrunk, and in some spots fog moved over the road. 

And then the sun would come out and the snow would sparkle all around us.

It seemed within minutes we were bearing down on Reno, where the snow was stacked up in the parking lot at my son’s apartment complex. We had a quick meal of leftover chicken, loaded up his stuff, and hit the road. It stormed on and off all the way back down the canyon. There was a “moderate” rock slide just above Pulga – it only closed one lane. We could tell the CalTRANS guys had just arrived, and they were nervous – the road was really skinny at that point, of course, and the flag man was having trouble finding a safe spot to stand. I’m sorry I didn’t have the camera with me for the return trip – just keep that warning in mind if you ever plan to take this route. 

I’d say it’s worth the risk. 



Smack Down! continues, takes a cold turn!

I had two sisters, and sometimes we got along like three angels, and then there was the rest of the time.  We had many days that looked like this.

Here’s the sky over my yard at about 3:30 yesterday afternoon – roughly the time my sisters and I would get out of school and fight over stuff like what tv show to watch, or who ate all the Captain Crunch.

Get aload of the red spot in that cloud. We watched this storm move south from Tehama County, saw big lightening bolts drilling into the  ground all along Hwy 99. At one point, as the sky darkened over Chico, a long horizontal bolt with three or four vertical bolts lit up the sky over Oroville and Paradise. 

A mean, pissed off sky.

And then it started hailing. My husband and I are usually on our patio at that time, calling it a day, having a cup of coffee and planning dinner. We watched the rain turn to hail, and then the hail started getting bigger and bigger. I’ve never personally seen hail that big – I picked up several balls,  at least half an inch in diameter. 

My sister lived in Kansas for a few years, she told me she lost two windshields to hail storms. We’ve had hail here that ruined roof shingles, and our little plastic green house has holes in its roof from a particularly ferocious hail storm a couple years back. And now this – our peach trees were just covered with lovely pink blossoms.  But luckily, as big as this hail was, it didn’t throw down as hard, it was more like a sprinkling – like somebody tossing out Mardi Gras beads from a fire truck. Before long there came a soft rain, and before we knew it, the hail was gone. 

But last night, in the wee hours, I woke up to another assault on the roof. I laid there waiting for it to end – I will have to go out and check the peach trees when the sun gets up, lazy girl. 

Today we drive to Nevada to escort our son home for Spring Break – his truck is acting up, and this is no kind of weather to set out on a road like that in a truck that’s acting up. Every time we make that trip I am reminded of the Donner Party – you know, they got lost just outside of Truckee, a short hike from a hotel we once stayed at, how ironic.

We’ll see what Mother Nature has in store for us. I’ll be sure to take a pack of donuts. 


Seasonal Smack-Down! Got hail yesterday! And shrimp tacos!

In the continuing battle for domination, Winter got the upper hand on Spring yesterday – even got a little hail!

Took the dogs over to Verbena Field to get a look at Lindo Channel – it wasn’t exactly at flood stage, but a few more days like yesterday and we’ll see!


Stepping up to the edge with Biscuit I could see there was a pretty fierce undertow.

I don’t want to look outside, cause I can hear the dam-ned weeds growing in every direction. By the time this storm is over we’ll have to prime up the torch and burn our way out of the house. 

Yesterday the weather was back and forth all day – it started warm, skies so sunny a silly woman might even put out a load of laundry. White irises were blooming along my tenants’ front steps.  Then – BAM! – dumping rain. But temps almost 60 degrees – the mosquitoes are coming out of the woodwork all over the yard. Finally, late yesterday, the sky got really dark, the  temperatures dropped, and it started hailing in our driveway, for a good five minutes. There was a mix of rain and snow at the camp shack. My son reported hail on the Skyway, and snow threatening in Paradise. 

It’s the Seasonal Smack-Down!

I  guess we know who will win, Spring will eventually prevail, but isn’t it fun to see her get a run for her money?

In the meantime it’s good to have a meal plan. My mother always told me it’s okay to eat shellfish in months that have an ‘r’ so I try to remember to indulge a couple of times a month through Winter. My husband and I found a good  deal on frozen shrimp at Safeway, so we decided to try making our own shrimp tacos. 


We got these shrimp frozen from the butcher’s window, they were a little better than shrimp we’ve bought in the bag. We added frozen corn for some moisture and flavor.


One of our best batches of corn tortillas.

I’m lame with pictures, I forgot to take a picture of the finished products – we topped them with fresh cilantro and diced tomato and shredded cabbage, and then  they were gone!

And then you clean your pan good, take out the trash, and run some vinegar down the sink so your house doesn’t smell like fish the next morning!

Adios Muchachos/Muchachas, we’ll catch you next time on “This Old Lady” with Juanita.

Winter/Spring bout scheduled for this week, no holds barr’d – I’m putting my money on Spring!

Signs of Spring are everywhere – the trees are busting with pollen, intermittent showers come out of nowhere, and Saturday night Andy Forsberg swept opening weekend out at the Silver Dollar.

Read all about that and watch some bitchin’ videos (under “Media”) here:

It has been almost 70 degrees these past afternoons, with water still standing from the last storm – I predict the mosquitoes will be as big as cats this year.  Something my husband and I have actually found very effective in keeping the bugs off is lemon eucalyptus essential oil, which I get for about $6 per 1 oz bottle from Lucky Vitamin.   We mix about 20 drops with water in a standard size spray bottle – the kind you can pick up in the cleaning aisle at Walmart or Home Depot. It smells like lemon candy, doesn’t sting our skin, and actually works. I’ve heard the lemony smell confuses the little suckers, who use our natural body odor to home in on us.

My grass is coming in really well, I wish I had planted more.


You can still see big patches of sticker weeds, but this section of grass is a victory.

I’ve been covering the really hot spots with plastic and chips and rocks – as you can see along that back fence, I started so long ago the chips are different colors. It’s slow going, takes a lot of either to cover the spaces we have, but it’s finally coming together pretty well.

My husband built this retaining wall rather than level the yard, and now I’m trying to cover the hot strip of ground next to it.


I’m afraid this is going to take forever, but every time I get a few more rocks it keeps me motivated.

Today I picked up three more big rocks at our friends’ house – probably less than four square feet of coverage, but every row of rocks looks better.

With the warmer temperatures I notice flowers are spreading around the yard, I found more echinacea coming up.


I have noticed echinacea spread well by seed if you keep the ground clean around them.

I try to help the flowers by cleaning out weeds, which don’t need as much water to take over huge spaces and crowd everything else out. I try to spend a few minutes in my little flower beds every day, cleaning around flower shoots.

I hope Spring Ahead! is working okay for you, it takes me a couple of days to settle in. Contrary to the name, it actually seems to bring Winter back.  Just as it was getting lighter in the morning, it’s dark again. Weatherman says there’s another cold front moving in later this week, with lower snow levels. Winter is hanging on by her teeth, as Spring tries to get her Size 11 in the door. 

Like I always say, two sisters fighting over the bathroom. We’ll see what happens over the next week. 





Life changes – sometimes, it’s nice to make a few changes of your own

Punxsutawny Phil was right, Winter has stuck it out, with more storms and lower snow levels predicted for next week. 

But Spring is less than two weeks away – this I know because the tree outside my bedroom window is bursting with pollen-laden flowers. 

My son’s face has healed up very well after his recent tiff with a car over right-of-way. He admitted to me, he was at fault – oh well, at least he’s big enough to admit it. Some cyclists have to learn the hard way, and in this case, luckily, the ER bill will be the most painful takeaway. 

I told him to remember the whole incident when he’s behind the wheel of his F-150.

My husband and I are still moving, having decided to sublet most of our apartment here in town. Our lives have changed, our kids are out, we don’t need so much space. The extra rent will be helpful in finishing off the mortgage. 

Sitting here, looking at stuff to be packed up, it’s overwhelming. But when I’m sitting in the shack, it seems soooooo doable. So peaceful up there. It’s going to happen. 

So I work a little here, a little there, to get out of the apartment, decide what goes to the shack, what gets boxed up and stored, and what goes to the Salvation Army or The Dump. My husband has emptied the shelves in his shop, thrown out at least one truck load of spare bike parts, old tools, wood scraps, etc, to make room for our “heirlooms”. Lots of old dishes – both my mother and my husband’s mother had kept it all, boxed up very carefully, gorgeous china keepsakes, some practical, some not. There’s a porcelain honey jar shaped like a big honey bee, a cheese dish with tiny porcelain mice, a butter dish with porcelain flowers for the handle, etc. 

Then there are keepers full of toys and other kids’ stuff – like the wooden headed puppets from Aunt Inge, or the plastic Coleman stove and lantern we bought for our kid’s third birthday. Handmade sweaters my husband’s grandmother made for our kids, along with my mother’s baby clothes sewn by my great grandmother. My mother’s first shoes, and her tiny spoon. All these keepers, stacked on each other. 

And then there’s the photo albums. A-may-zing! A picture of my mother, still in diapers, dressed in a cousin’s cowboy hat and fringed gloves, toting a tiny Daisy rifle. An earlier photo of my grandfather and grandmother when they were courting, my grandfather holding his Winchester and my grandmother holding a string of ducks he’d shot. Pictures of the Sacramento River during the floods of the early 1940’s – my grandfather standing in the driveway of his farm, leaning on our front gate, the flood waters swirling around his hips – but he’s holding one of the first cans of Pepsi, and he’s got a big grin on his face!

And so many others pictures of people I don’t even know who they are! 

But I have it all packed, all organized, ready to go onto the shelves that line the little shop. Someday I hope it all holds as much fascination for my kids as it has for us. 

I’ll keep you posted.