Simple pleasures of gardening – try some succulents and cactus!

The tomatoes are happy in their containers, we’re getting tiny fruit now.


The other day I noticed about a dozen new tomatoes on our container plants.

Cactus and succulents also make a wonderful container garden.  This Summer we plan to spend more time at our little shack in the woods, so we loaded a bunch of our cactus pots and took them along. Of course they can survive without much attention, but look what happens when you throw a little water their way now and then.


My patio is lit up with these tiny red blossoms.

I found this old gas heater in a house we bought. It looked great but our PG&E man told me it was not up to modern standards.  With the top grate intact, it made a good coffee table. When I found these adorable terra cotta pots in somebody’s FREE pile, I took out the grate and made it into a plant stand.


The little furry nodules appear like warts and then one day they open into these fabulous little blossoms.

This is an old cream separator my gramps picked up from who knows where. Made by the Excelsior Separator Company!


Forever functional.

He liked old machines, this might have been from my cousin’s big dairy in Glenn County. It sat next to our tank house and we kids played on it for years – it had all these moving parts, now rusted pretty solid. We pretended it was a car, a spaceship, a stove for baking mud pies, etc.  Now it makes a great plant stand.


I never get tired of these delicate pink blossoms, growing off of a grouchy old cactus.

I began collecting succulents and cactus when my mom died and left me with her hoard of pots. Let me tell you, they reproduce like crazy, and I  try to pot every one. Every now and then, as if to say, “Thanks!”, they explode with flowers. 




Trying something new – gardening in containers

One of the biggest lifestyle changes we’ve made lately is gardening in containers. After all those years having a big truck garden and so many tomatoes we needed to get an additional freezer for the sauce, we find water has become too expensive to garden in Chico anymore. So we potted them up and moved them to our camp site in the hills. 

They get noticeably bigger every day.

Here we share a well with neighbors, paying about $200 a year for our share of the electricity bill for the pump. Our summertime Cal Water bills in Chico were over $100 a month.

GFY Cal Water!

So far they are growing like crazy and getting good, fat blossoms.

These look healthy and viable – last year they were small and gray.

At this time last year, the heat had already hit the valley, and I learned that blossoms will not “set” in temperatures over 94 F. They just withered and fell off. Many of our gorgeous plants, which I’d started from seed, never had any fruit. They sat mummified in the heat.  We pulled many rather than waste the water.  We only got about three dozen tomatoes all summer.

I had used the last of our seed store. So this year we bought cheap plants at Home Depot. We got an interesting cherry tomato from a neighbor. We bought dirt in the bag at Walmart. And we gathered some old black plastic tree pots we’d saved for recycling bins. 

My son also found several of these “grow bags” around the corner in our neighbor’s “free” pile.

This is a Geopot. I’ve seen them online for about $6. We’ll see how it works. It could hold a lot more dirt but I ran out.

They’re light and have handles, so you can move your garden if you need to. 

I also brought my potted flowers – echinacea and selvia. While my echinacea is taking off nicely in the ground in Chico (as long as I run a sprinkler on it every few days), the selvia was getting pushed out by an outrageous crop of feverfew. So I potted up a few selvia and grabbed my collection of echinacea pots. My husband, bless his heart, heave-ho’d them into the F-150. 

Selvia is loving it here – the first day it was here, ants raided the pot and ate all the pill bugs.

In Chico I had to water these every day, here they only need a quick squirt every other morning, and they’re going to town. 

I know my husband wants me to spend more time up here, cause he loaded up over half my cactus pots and quite a few of my big rocks. We’ve arranged those around our little patio, just in time for blossoms.

I’ll keep you posted, next time, on “This Old Lady! with Juanita!”




Motherhood is not for the faint of heart, but it’s been a good gig these last 27 years

Happy Mother’s Day, everybody.

Everybody has a mom, however they feel about it, today is a day to remember that. 

I was raised by strong women, so I won’t apologize – I am what I am. 

My kids are what they are, and I’m happy for that. When I think how we scrambled to raise them I can’t believe how good they turned out. It was like that episode of “I Love Lucy” where Lucy and Ethel get a job at the chocolate factory. Stuff just started coming at us, and all the sudden 20 years had gone by and they were grown up. I’m still sitting here with my hair sticking straight up and my eyes popped halfway out of my head.

Parenthood is not for the faint of heart. 

I’m letting my husband sleep in today, cause he’s a workaholic, and as soon as he gets up we have to do something. That’s okay, but every now and then I just let him sleep in so I can have a break.

I wish I could sit around and watch tv all day – at least a couple of hours of A Team –  but that’s probably not good for the dogs – we’ll probably go for a long walk in the woods later. 

Whatever you’re doing today, I hope you have happy thoughts about motherhood. But I’m not recommending it for everybody, so keep up on your birth control. 

I got so far out of my comfort zone I think I lost it!

Like Jerry always said, “What a long, strange trip it’s been…”

Sometimes I’m not even sure where I been.  It’s been over a year since my husband and I mounted our plan to drastically downsize our lifestyle. We sold our biggest, most expensive, most time-consuming rental – leaving our son and his longtime girlfriend scrambling to find a place to live. We solved that and our tax problems by using the proceeds to buy them a house – in another town.

We’ve spent the last year getting them settled, and getting ourselves unsettled. We decided to rent space in our house, so we could spend more time on the road, and at our little camp site in the hills. 

Sounded so simple, swear to Goddess!

I worked for months whittling down the hoard we’d assembled, given too much living space. It was like the end of “The Jerk” – I was wandering around my place with a lamp in one hand, a chair in the other, trying to let go.  The lamp went, I kept the chair. Allllll the chairs!

I threw out stuff I’d adored for years, and then some stuff I’ve only bought recently. I thought I’d finally found the perfect dish rack, for example – it won’t fit my new sink. So it went.

I boxed up other stuff, including pots and pans I can’t use on my tiny new stove. Good thing I kept all that camp gear – those little Texsport pots are perfect!

And we have a much smaller refrigerator – that’s been interesting. Yes, people need refrigerators, it’s impossible to keep fresh produce without one. But yeah, they eat a lot of electricity, which is a concern, so we’re saving up for a propane fridge we found at Lowe’s. For now we supplement with an old Igloo lunch box we use to bring our stuff home from the grocery store in hot weather. The little freezer on the tiny refrigerator is just big enough to hold a few of those freezer bags. 

So we’ve finally emptied out the rental part of the house, we’ve got it cleaned and painted over the old nail holes, getting ready to call Ray in to do the floors. We’ve posted it online and we’ve already got a couple of interesting prospects, have to wait and see. 

I forgot how interesting it is to meet new people. That’s the upside of Landlady. For every doofus you deal with you meet a couple of interesting people. 

I’ll have to post some pics of what I’ve done to the lawn – we came upon a bonanza of free wood chips, so I’m goin’ for it! 

Just checking in, because it’s been so long since I posted last, I’ve been getting the sweetest little “you okay?” notes from the WordPress robot.

I’m okay. Just remember, that which does not kill you, will only make you stronger. I know, I’m not the first person who said that, but I’m living proof.



Work is okay when it pays off!


Surprise flowers are probably the best kind.


Again this year the timing and amount of rain filled our yard with flowers of all kinds. The irises just keep on blooming.

When my husband went out to mow the knee high weeds in our back acre he was surprised to find these lovely, fragile and fragrant purple and gold irises growing under the neighbor’s fence, drowning in sticker grass. So he cut them and brought them in the house. Overnight more flowers opened, and the light fragrance greeted me this morning. 

I’ve continued with my xeroscaping projects, laying either black sheet plastic or flattened cardboard boxes around trees and fence lines, and covering them with wood chips.


Pretty soon I hope to eliminate all but a tiny lawn, protected by the shade of the old crepe myrtle tree there. After I finish the edges of the yard I’ll try to put mulch around the old tree too. 


Now that Summer is bearing down on us (Spring Who?), it’s going to be important to do whatever we can to save water, and I notice water goes a lot farther with mulch like chips. 

And it really does kill down the weeds, reduces the need for mowing and herbicides too. 

I got a good idea from Town and Country Gardening:

I wish I had pictures, you’ll have to try it for yourself – when I sprayed some tiny sticker seedlings with straight vinegar, they turned yellow within a day, and now they’re gone. Give it a whack –  you’ll have best results on new seedlings as they come out of the ground. Use it bright and early in the morning when you expect hot bright sun. 

I’ve been working a lot, I’m stiff all over, but it’s paid off. 

Live and learn

Between work and wacky weather I have been too busy to sit down at my computer much lately.

But what do you know I found out I can blog with my phone.

All these years with all this technology, it seems every time I learned how to use some device or another, something would change, and I’d have to learn all over again how to use it.

For years I had a tablet that my children had bought me for Christmas. It was great for checking my email and eventually I learned how to use it to post on my blog. When we started coming up to our camp Shack I found I could use the tablet, using my phone as a hotspot.

Well last week I was fumbling out of my chair when I dropped my tablet. It’s officially dead the screen is broken.

I was pretty distraught at first, especially since my kids had given it to me. It was such a thoughtful gift. They gave it to me when I wasn’t a very good snowboarder yet, so I could use it when I sat in the lodge waiting for them to return from their runs. I used it for years in motels, as we took our kid all over the state for his Hockey League. It has kept me company for many years and I was just sad to lose it.


My husband and I are in the midst of fixing a new rental, and we’re very seldom home lately. I liked having the tablet to check my email and make quick posts on the blog. Since I broke it I just haven’t been blogging much.

One day sitting at the store recently, I had a run-in with a bum that left me very angry about the way Chico has become. Transients are taking  over our town because our County receives $550 a day for every bum it takes into one of its programs. They hang around all the retail centers where they are not chased away, they Panhandle at the entrances of stores, they wander parking lots panhandling people, and they steal things out of cars.

They use Bidwell Park to get around town, predating the neighborhoods Within Reach of the park. They steal out of garages, backyards, parked cars, crimes of opportunity as the police department prefers to call it.

Homeless advocates tell us these people have the right to public spaces. Well everybody has the right to public spaces. It is what you do in those public spaces that sets you apart from others.


Transients commit crimes and then disappear into the hobo jungle that was once Bidwell Park. They have cars, they drive up to Peregrine Point disc golf course, a good 10 Mi out of town, to break into people’s cars as they are enjoying the course and the trails.


Chico police respond with eight and a half by 11 inch signs posted at these public spaces, warning citizens not to leave anything of value in their cars. I don’t believe this stops cars from being broken into, the bums break in to see if you’ve hidden anything of value. It takes literally seconds to bust the window out of your car with any number of clever little tools, including the porcelain chips from a broken spark plug.

All over town these crimes are increasing, and all the police have to say is “stop being  victims, you stupid  citizens!”

Right now, Chico PD is publicizing the crime wave as the beginning of their tax increase campaign. The city of Chico wants a sales tax increase, they’ve already said they will pursue a measure for a special election in 2019.

So it’s a good idea, because we’re having an election in 2018, to make sure our candidates know what we think of this problem. I finally had to pick up my phone and figure out how to use it to post about this issue on my Chico Taxpayers site.

It’s been fun to learn how to use the dictation app. It comes up with odd words sometimes, misspells things, but it’s no problem to edit that all later.

Next time I’ll figure out how to post pictures of some of the incredible flowers that are coming up right now. The rains came at exactly the right time this year, and the flowers are blooming like crazy.











And now for the pollen!


I was walking in the back yard with my dogs yesterday and my shoulder brushed against a low-hanging oak branch.

These are oak flowers. Pretty poison!

Out of the corner of my eye I could see a puff of green powder. There was pollen all over my shirt sleeve, my neck and one side of my head. We have oak trees all over our property, but this was the first time I’d had a  really good look at oak flowers. I realized that’s what’s all over our car right now, our patio furniture, our dogs, and US!

You can wear a mask outside, but when you come into the house you’re carrying pollen all over yourself. I try to remember to wear a hat too, and brush myself off when I come inside, but it’s just impossible not to be affected by a regular pollen storm. 

This morning I was awakened by this weird whistle – it was my left nostril!

At times it makes me light-headed, nauseous, and just TIRED.  I find washing my face with Noxema cold creme is helpful, and yeah, the nose wash bottle is very nice, I always try to remember to use that.

And DRINK WATER, it’s a must.  Sometimes my mouth is so dry it’s stuck to itself.  My dentist told me a lot of dental problems are caused by dry mouth.  I saw actress Carmen Diaz chugging water on Dr. Oz one day, I thought she was so cool – I tried it! Had acid reflux all day, so I haven’t tried that again. I just pour myself about 8 ounces at a time, leave it by the kitchen sink, take a whack at it every time I pass by.  

Of course, right now, I’m drinking a stinking hot cup of coffee – when I hold my nose over that cup in the morning, I can feel it cracking and popping inside, and suddenly I can breathe. A cup of coffee is nice.

The weatherman and the news lady were going on and on about how great it is to have your windows open at night – not if there’s a pollenator out there. Be aware of what’s going on in your yard before you pop those windows.

I love flowers, I love  trees, I love Spring, but just one year I wish I could beat the pollen!