Flak catchers beware! I found the can crusher!

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Sunrise over Oroville

We had a few nice days camping before the rain came back. Check out that sunrise – and people ask me why I would want to live up there.

Back in Chico, me and the dogs are holed up in the house again. When the rain let up for an hour or so around noon, we went out to see what there was to see.  I notice the grass I’d planted outside my front door is finally coming in,  on a dead heat with the weedlings.

In this weather grass actually has a chance.

 

Good thing my husband hauled out the rain barrels.

 

My cactus garden loves this weather. 

Toward the end of Summer, when it was just DRY, my nopal cactus had started to wither, it was shocking – the leaves began to wrinkle up like raisins. As soon as the weather turned wet they started to swell up, so much a few leaves actually broke off from their own weight – see the leaf laying on the ground there next to the strawberry pot. I notice they can rip very badly if they fall off by themselves, so I’ve been watching, and when they start to sag I cut them off with the loppers. I save them in an old planter pot and plant them elsewhere when I find a spot. They last forever, just sitting there in the pot, looking sad, and then you put them in the ground and look what happens! 

No it’s not pleasant working outside in a dumper, but I got plenty of other stuff to occupy my time. Back to The Hoard. 

Last Spring we sold an old rental, and my older son, who was living in the “mother-in-law” unit with his girlfriend, had less than a week after the new place was available to  get their stuff out of the old place. They tried to save time by moving a bunch of stuff into our garage. I have to laugh – moving is so frantic – they took everything.  Once the panic had settled down, they looked at their mish mash of boxes and realized, a lot of it should go either to the thrift store or the trash. Since they both have real jobs now, I’ve finally decided to take on the job of sorting through their stuff. I found out – a lot of it belongs to my husband and I, junk we’d left behind in the garage at their apartment when we moved off the property. 

I’m always asking my husband, “what is this and is it usable?” 

Sometimes he laughs and thumbs toward the trash pile, other times he says, “wow, I forgot that…”  The other day we found my mom’s old can crusher.

Score!

My mother was a consummate hoarder, where do you think I got  half my junk? She also drank Pepsi out of the can, it was like her oxygen tank. “Where the hell is my Pepsi?!”  A child of the Great Depression, she never threw away any type of metal. She saved her Pepsi cans for the neighbors kids, and sometimes she’d even drive the whole pile of kids in my gramps’  ’66 Chevy pick-up to the scrap yard to turn the hoard into cash.

I’ll never forget how shocked the neighbors were when she died – one said, “she just took the kids to the dump last week…gave ’em all $5…”  Yep, that was my mom!

Mom’s garage would get cluttered with cans sometimes, and the neighbor kids weren’t always around to help, so her boyfriend got her a can crusher – what a romantic!  My mom loved stuff like that. Screw it to the fence, drop in the can, pull that lever and VOILA!  That’s French for “Holy Shit!”   Can comes out looking like it’s been had-over by an 18-wheeler.

They don’t call it The Crusher for nothing.

When my mother died I saved everything – including a Post It note I found on the refrigerator – “call the kids”  The can crusher went in my husband’s shop, along with  other relics – tools and farm junk. My husband is also a hoarder, that’s why it’s so tough to throw anything away around here.   I was pretty excited to find it again, because my husband has recently switched to canned beer. I like the cans better, they aren’t as heavy, they don’t break, and they don’t seem to hold as much residue – so they don’t stink as bad as bottles. And now I can crush them to roughly one-tenth their original size – they take up almost no space, and we can take them to the recycling center in old dog food bags. We don’t have to go as often either, and the trips are more lucrative.

And I can’t tell you how fun it is smacking down those cans – listen, an old bitch like me has got to let off a little steam once in a while. It’s fun imagining that I am putting one or another government flak catcher in there and SMASH! 

 

 

 

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Rainy day is a good day to whittle down the hoard

I rolled over in bed at about 4 am and hollered, “Stop it!” I yelled so loud I woke myself up.

My husband rolled over to answer, “It’s not me, it’s the rain gutter…”

We realized, when we cleaned our gutters, we forgot to put the board back. There’s a downspout that takes run-off from a big section of roof, and when the rain really gets going, the stream hits the gutter below like a hammer. It’s right out side my son’s bedroom, so he noticed it the first rainstorm. He and his dad climbed up on a ladder and fitted a piece of scrap wood into the gutter, and that seemed to be the ticket. It dulled the persistent wham! wham! wham! to a livable thumpthumpthumpthump.

So today we’re going to get up there and take care of that – it’s one of those things you can’t ignore, sounds like somebody’s trying to tear the house down.

In the meantime, I couldn’t sleep anymore, having woke up enough to feel all the aches and pains, I had to get up. I stumbled into the kitchen, led by the glow of the little light on my coffee pot. Badges follows me out every morning, bumping at my elbow with his nose – he likes me to move his bed to the spot next to my computer chair when I get up, so he can lay next to me while I clatter at the keys.

On a day like today, I have to sit in the dark and think, “What day is it? Am I supposed to be dragging my garbage cans out to the curb?”   No, which is always a relief.  But this morning I realized, it’s Monday, and Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. My son is coming home for an extended weekend, and I have to clean out his room. We have a really bad habit of putting stuff in there.

For example, two old people don’t need six dining chairs, so there they go into the boy’s room. And so on. The bed is covered with boxes of junk I been sorting to throw out or whatever. The shelves are all disheveled from my attempts at reorganizing. Opening the door is always a shock – I don’t go in there too often. I thought I would make my “office” in there, but found, it’s kind of a sad room without a boy living in it. 

I’ll tell you what else – having an empty room in your house makes it way too easy to HOARD!  Too easy to put off throwing stuff away – hide it in there, decide later…

There’s a difference between storing something you have regular but not constant use for – like dining chairs – and stuff you just can’t throw away, “because it’s still perfectly good…” even though you have no use for it, now or in the foreseeable future.  I know – take it to Good Will!

Would you believe, the thrift stores in our town suffer periods of glut? Especially at the end of the school year, when college students vacate our town by the carload. My husband and I tried to take in a load of stuff in July, and were turned away from two stores. Salvation Army no longer takes donations at their stores located around town, we are expected to drive to their facility at the airport. 

I’ll tell you the truth – half of it went into the garbage can when we came home. I took a hard look at it – old linens, old clothes – who wants those? Those went into the trash.  I looked again – a lot of stuff we’ve been left with by tenants who never came back to get it. A perfectly good cast iron pan with lid – I already have the identical pan. Kitchen gadgets. A stack of paperback books. 

Today I will stack it in the garage, and this week I will load it into the  car. I find the holidays are a good time to take stuff to the thrift stores.  It will feel good, it always feels good. Probably not for the reasons it should feel good, but it will feel good. 

 

 

What puts a kink in outdoor living? Rain!

We were tucked into our snuggy loft bed this morning, when my husband jolted up – Rain! The patio chairs! The hammock! We just hung the hammock in a new spot, and I was really enjoying it.

The clock showed 4 am, and outside we could hear the patter picking up. We jumped out of the bed and down the ladder and out we went to gather up.  

I usually have to hit the outhouse by that time, anyway, but I have to admit – as much as I’ve reminded myself, wet weather is coming, I wasn’t ready for a run to the outhouse in the rain, right through the construction site.

My husband is building a new outhouse, and of course, the ground is torn up, and now muddy, where he’s been digging for the piers.

So, this changes things. In past, we stayed away during wet weather because, well, there’s nowhere to go except our tiny shack or our outhouse. When we have the patio furniture shoved in, we have to move stuff just to make our way from the table to the door. It’s cozy, but we’re not old enough to sit all day yet. 

We had to tear down the outhouse that came with the place, it was 30 years old, a tree branch had set it a little askew, and the rats and squirrels would not be kept out. We had another sturdier shed, so we just ran the plumbing over and fixed up a toilet and sink and that’s had to suffice for the last few years. It’s too far from the tank, and the line isn’t deep enough, so it has  frozen on occasion – a late freeze last Spring actually broke the toilet.  We’ve been wanting to set the whole operation back in place but haven’t had the extra money until now.

So, we’re building another 10 x 10 for a new bathroom, with space for a kitchen, since all the plumbing is there at the septic tank already. Right now I carry the dirty dishes all the way across the yard, to what I’ve been calling, “the interim bathroom”, and accidents happen.

Accidents can also happen when you’re hop-skip-jumping through a muddy mess in the dark, too! 

And thank goodness for the Enterprise Record Sunday edition somebody lobbed into our driveway last week – we lay those on the floor to catch muddy foot prints.  We always pick up a few copies of the News and Review when they flop a new edition.

I knew Winter was going to be a challenge to our plans to move up here, we’ll have to see how the next few weeks pan out. I’ll keep you posted!

Mt Lassen – I haven’t been able to get up there yet this year, but here’s some pix from old trips

Someone has been searching posts about Mount Lassen so I searched a couple of my faves. 

Here’s one from June 2012 – we went snowboarding at Diamond Peak – it was  the last good snow before the drought. 

https://worldofjuanita.com/2012/06/11/camp-lassen/

Here’s a road trip from June 2015 – the snow was not good enough to board, but we had a fantastic day. 

https://worldofjuanita.com/2015/06/02/waganupa-the-center-of-the-world/

We can see the mountain from a spot on Hwy 32, and it’s covered with snow right now. 

Enjoy!

Camellia Time, Weed Time, Mosquito Time

Camellia time.

This is one of my favorite varieties because it cuts well and keeps a few days in a vase.

This past Winter was colder and wetter than the last five or so years of drought, and I notice a lot of stuff is blooming in my yard that has not bloomed for a long time. An old camellia bush that rests against the southern wall of one of my rentals really came out this year, covered with these perfect red “Winter roses.” I cut them whenever I get the chance – if you catch a bud at the right time, it will open in a glass of water.

I guess you noticed that over the course of the last storms the weeds been growing like crazy. I been trying to catch up with my  weed burner.

I let that patch get too lush.

I let that patch get too lush.

The torch takes out the little weeds – literally vaporizes ’em.  But once the grass gets a few inches long, it gets harder to burn, uses more propane.  So, I try to get out there whenever the rain lets up for a couple of days, spend a half hour or 45 minutes cleaning the gravel pathways before the sticker weeds get any thicker. I leave the mullein flowers – they’re hard to burn, and they do get quite spectacular over the course of Summer.

The other thing we can expect this year is a horde of blood sucking mosquitoes. My husband and I bat them off every evening as we sit on the porch to watch the sunset. They are big and furry this year, and seem very aggressive, but maybe that’s just my paranoid imagination. They don’t just breed in puddles, they like leaf piles and other composty places, so it’s time to clean up the yard, turn stuff over, get rid of those stands of weeds.

We noticed yesterday evening that they congregate around the patio ceiling and the edge of the roof, so today my husband will have to get up on a ladder and blow out the rain gutters with his leaf blower. 

Of course we’ve got our dogs on heart worm medicine – we get a good deal from Mike Seely, Butte County Mobile Vet.  He’s in the big motor home behind the Forest Ranch Store most Thursday afternoons, and up in Yankee Hill on Wednesday afternoons at the Hardware Store.  He’s available the rest of the week by appointment, but if you catch him at Forest Ranch or Yankee Hill it’s cheaper. 

So many things to remember, coming out of the fog of Winter.  Our orchard  is blooming, and the old soda bottles I collected to make bug traps are hanging ready in the greenhouse. By the time the fruit is as big as the end of my pinky-finger, I will have them full of molasses, vinegar and ammonia and strung across the trees.

I think this past cold Winter will produce a bumper crop of peaches this year, and I want as many as I can get.  I’ll have to thin them – last year that was hard, there weren’t very many, but we had to make sure those we got were not too crowded, so sacrificed quite a few. It worked – the peaches we got were spectacular, I just took the last bag of frozen halves out the other day.

Opening that zip lock bag, the smell  of peaches was all over the kitchen.

Things are popping up around here.

Take a hike! Humboldt Road still there

While I won’t blame the weather for all my problems, it has been a little onerous being stuck inside during these howling dumpers. It’s kind of fun to watch the trees swaying and the clouds whirling from inside our comfy apartment, for a few hours anyway. But after a couple of days of this stuff, a person is busting to get out.

We had a break in the weather yesterday, the clouds broke up over town, and the sun came beaming in. I’ve been getting a cold, and wanted to stay inside watching tv, but couldn’t pass up the opportunity to throw a couple of loads of wash on the clothes line. As soon as I got out into that fresh breeze, I felt a tremendous rush of well-being. Spring took my face in the palms of her icy hands and said, “Hello Sister!”  

My husband was also feeling the tug of Spring.  We decided to take the dogs out somewhere different. We headed east up Hwy 32 to get a look at the big thunderheads that were circling like big black warships. 

Hwy 32 lays along the remnants of the old Humboldt Road, built over a hundred years ago by our town founder John Bidwell and his partners. It was a toll road, and Bidwell made his fortune from the fees paid by eager immigrants, toiling their way toward the gold fields. There is a short section of the original road leading out of Chico, you can take that section for a mile or two out of town and get back on Hwy 32 to take you the rest of the way to Forest Ranch.  That section is very  pretty,  but we decided to go farther.

Stage coaches left Chico a few times a day during the big Rush.  The grade was so severe they were lucky to make it ten miles – as evidenced by the road signs marking the sites of two popular boarding houses of the time – 10 Mile House, and 14 Mile House. Of course there are new subdivisions at both sites – who could resist those vistas?

Whenever I drive Hwy 32, I think of those people grinding along in those stage coaches. The old road was a winding series of switchbacks, and very steep. The new road was cut through in the 1960’s, with modern equipment, they went right through bedrock to make the road straight. That’s how they saved so  much  of the old road. 

Badges inspects an overgrown section of old Humboldt Road.

Badges inspects an overgrown section of old Humboldt Road.

There is a section of the road along the Peregrine Point disc golf course. This land used to be part of a private hunting club, acquired by the  city about 20 years ago, not sure exactly when. The parking lot for the course sits right on the old road. You have to know it was there – no pavement is left, but you can see old ruts in the lava cap, from when it was an unpaved wagon road. 

If you follow that section east, through bushes and over boulders in some places, you will find the section of road Badges is standing on above. In some spots you can still see the white center line. 

As we strolled along the old road, watching cars and trucks whiz by on the new road just below, we came across a section of what people used to call “the Chinese walls”.

 

This trail doesn't look legal.

This trail leads onto private property, so we turned around.  It’s too bad hikers did not respect the wall here, but I have the feeling it’s been going on since before I was born, when this property was part of a private hunting club.

You will see these rock walls around the eastern end of Chico, into the hills above town along Hwy 32. They were built by workers clearing fields, used as property boundaries. They still make a fine  cattle fence. When I was a little girl, my grandpa told us this was “The Great Wall of China” – he was such a kidder! He believed, as most people believed at that time, that the walls were built mostly by Chinese laborers. Since that time we’ve found out, there were all kinds of laborers involved, including conscripted local natives. But whoever built them, they’re beautiful remnants of our colorful history, I’m glad property owners have maintained them in most places.

The sun was bright but the wind cut right through my sweater as we hiked along the highway. We could not see the mountains through the curtain of storm clouds, but we could see the Sutter Buttes, which look like a big spaceship sitting in the valley. 

We were gone from our house for less than an hour, but came home feeling great.  It’s simple but  true – fresh air and sunshine are good for you. Get out there!

 

 

How about a Spring cleaning for my brain?

Punxsutawny Phil said there would  be six more weeks of Winter. Is that an East Coast thing? Cause here in California, Winter has packed her bags, and she’s got one foot out the door. Yesterday the mercury hit 60, the mosquitoes came out of nowhere, and all around my yard little tidbits of color are popping out.

The almond blossoms are sweet, too sweet – as soon as we get close to that tree, our faces begin to twitter – ker-CHEW!

Not that I ain’t been waiting. I actually took a nap in my lawn chair yesterday, the sun felt like an old friend. Where you been Friend? Where’d  I put that hammock? 

I woke up to the screeching of a couple of hawks, a third sitting in a nearby tree. The two males performed outrageously, swooping and circling back, very dramatic. They flew off, the female trailing behind, I have no idea how this love triangle ended.  These birds come every January, like part-time neighbors, they make a loud entrance, pair up, and set up a nest  in somebody’s big tree. Then they become very shy, we have never seen the actual nest, we can only guess they are here somewhere. Every now and then we see them snatch some prey – they’re very shy about eating, if you look at them, they’ll leave. After the way they carry on in Spring, you’d think they want everybody to pay attention to them,  but I guess they’re just happy.

I try to be happy too, but things get to me, I get stuck in the negative rut. I tell myself, “It’s January, you hate January…” But now it’s February, and I’m waiting for that thrill of Spring. It’s just not coming, something’s bothering me, I can’t  tell what. I worry about my husband’s health, I worry about my kids’ progress and happiness, I worry I worry I worry. It’s hard to let things go, that feeling that something bad is going to happen, or that  things are just crappy, keeps washing over me. Sometimes I feel like I’m in a little boat in the ocean, and I can’t see over the waves.

Sometimes I am just terrified of what will happen tomorrow. Usually when I feel this way, I try to think of something positive that is going to happen in the future, some little thread.  But lately, the world around me is very dark – this whole Trump thing is what my dad would call “eating shit and running rabbits…” I know, the Texans talk funny – that means “crazy”

And here in Chico, we just dodged a major disaster – the enormous dam at Oroville almost blew. By the grace of Mother Nature, we were spared a mayor catastrophe – the moonscape left behind would have dwarfed every big fire we’ve ever had, people would not only have died, but our economy would be sent back to the stone age. A whole  community would have been displaced, and the surrounding communities would have been overwhelmed with refugees who might never recover. 

The worst thing about it was how hysterical our “leaders” got – no matter how they denied anything bad would happen. During back-to-back tv interviews, District 1 county supervisor Bill Connelly and US congressman Doug LaMalfa both contradicted the official evacuation  advice, telling people to go in different directions. Connelly seemed completely freaked out  and at one point said he really  wasn’t sure what the sheriff’s department was advising, but he thought people should  “head east”.  LaMalfa also became a little hysterical, unable to name highways, using Cycle Land Speedway as a landmark.  

When they finally convened a press conference with county and state officials, Sheriff Cory Honea seemed more interested in clearing his own reputation than advising the public. When tv news people from Sacramento began questioning his evacuation schedule he got very defensive. They pointed out that over the weekend he was telling people not to panic, the dam would not burst, then suddenly Monday, in the middle of a busy weekday afternoon, it was “Get Out! Get Out Now!” There was pandemonium, nobody knew where to go, there were no recommended routes, just “Go to Chico!” 

Our local news offered very little coverage. We were visiting friends in Forest Ranch, just 15 minutes up the hill from Chico, and we saw better coverage on Ch 3 out of Sacramento. They sent a helicopter, or we wouldn’t know how close O-ville came from being a scratch mark on the hillside. 

Officials have lifted the evacuation order because, despite promises to the contrary, there has been looting. But there’s a “significant” storm moving in tomorrow, what next? 

I don’t know why I feel so much anxiety, Chico is not in danger. Sometimes I feel like I’m going to barf.  When I try to distract myself with the mundane chores, I find myself clumsy, forgetful. I don’t think it’s just this dam thing, I think life is  getting more stressful in general.  So I found this book called “Feeling Good.” It’s full of what I would call “positive thinking” exercises, I’m going to give it a whack. I feel like I’m making myself sick with negativity, time to do a mental cleansing.

I’ll keep you posted!