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!


Get ready for Winter – and Election 2018!

When my husband took our propane tank to the gas station for a fill-up the other day, the attendant refused to fill it – we had got it second-hand, and it was looking pretty beat-up. Good call – we decided to get a new one, and The Tractor Store is having quite a sale. Saved $20 on the new tank and got me a new pair of “barn” boots for about $5 off.

I love my barn boots, I wear them all Winter, and the old ones had sprouted holes in the heels – that’s a deal breaker.  As broke as we’ve been, I was afraid to ask for a new pair, sure the price had gone up – nope, only $25, which works out to about .001 cents a day over their lifespan.  

I noticed Summer had taken a powder the other morning, when I went onto my front porch here in Chico and found the KIST! thermometer at 59.  Whoa, that’s a new one – a week previous I had a hard time catching it below 70.  

So are you ready for Winter? I’m almost afraid to find out what kind of Winter we have ahead. I guess I’ll hope for rain, and hope it doesn’t come down too hard or too fast.

I’d also like some snow at the appropriate elevations, and I’d like it to stick, unlike last year, when Spring rains brought it melting down into the valley – almost lost O-ville, for Heaven’s Sake!

Of course it’s still so dry now you can hear the ground crunching under your feet, so while we’re making the rounds of the gutters and siding we have to keep the water running on the landscaping.  Everything is covered with dust and spiderwebs, and the leaves are turning – our yard looks like a widow at a funeral.  I would like to spray things down, including the siding on the house, but given our last water bill, I don’t dare. 

That’s right, I was going to write a letter to the editor about Cal Water rates again – our bills show that while we’ve cut usage drastically, we still spend more.  I’ll keep you posted on that.

I’ve got my feet firmly planted in two worlds right now – the future and the past. My husband and I are trying to change our lifestyle to suit the times, but we have to move carefully, not cut ourselves off. I want to get out of Chico, but the fact remains, we’ll have  rentals here, we have to deal with issues like utility bills, property tax bonds, and local ordinances. So, Landlady has to stay alert, stay awake, keep both feet awake.

We’ve already heard candidates announcing campaigns for 2018 – which starts in June, where some races will actually be determined. So, while you get your house ready for Winter, you might want to be thinking about arming your town for the pension apocalypse.

That, by the way, is the name of my neighbor’s kid’s band – wow, I see they are doing pretty good, I’m just glad they don’t live at home anymore!







Missing Summer already…

Well, the a/c is officially OFF at our house, we haven’t used it for at least a week. While September can produce 100 degrees, it’s not the same 100 degrees you get in August – for one thing, it doesn’t last as long.

A month ago, I was busting it out the door at 5 am, trying to catch a glimpse of the Giant, now he dances across my yard until almost 6:30, dogs yapping at his heels.

There’s still a hint of wet smoke in the air, but it’s not suffocating like before.

My husband and I are in a panic to get out of Chico by next Spring. Hah – get out of Chico! Yeah, we still have to buy groceries and gas, and we’ll still have to have our PG&E hook-up, but I’ll steal a line from Sugar Bowl ski resort – “It’s different up here.”

For one thing, there’s no freeway two blocks away, no constant screech of fire trucks following ambulances – in Chico, the constant din only lets up long enough, at some point in the wee morning, to make a person realize just how noisy the town is the rest of the day.

You can only really “hear” two things in Chico – the train, and only in the morning, and the race track, usually only on Friday or Saturday night. Oh yeah, two other things – a few times a year, you can hear the fireworks displays from the Chico Heat games or the racetrack. The rest of the time, it’s just a blur of noise.

Up in the hills you can hear one car crawling up out of the canyon at 9am, or 3pm, no matter. In the wee hours, you can hear the wind roaring up out of the canyon. Or you can hear a fox calling, or an owl. You can hear a neighbor a half mile away open their car  door and start their engine.

Sometimes voices drift over – a good sound, not intrusive.  We know when our neighbor Jerry comes out his front door almost every morning because his horse whinnies.

He says he can hear me tearing it up in our yard with the dogs – he put his hands together imitating my “clap clap clap”. I always clap to get them excited.

I try to use my campground voice here, I talk kind of loud usually. I like to whoop and holler and sing songs like “Honey let me be your salty dog!” like June Carter Cash. But here I try to keep my jubilance to myself.

Yesterday we switched to flannel sheets and got the comforter out. It’s already 10 degrees cooler up here, with highs in the 70’s. It’s 60 in the shack right now, I had to dig out my fleece shirt.

Oh sheesh, I think I’m already missing Summer.


Neighbors – a bear might crap in your driveway, but he won’t steal your weed whacker


We actually have quite a few neighbors near our shack in the woods – including Bear.

I hope that answers the question, “what did Davy Crocket step on in the woods?”


We’ve been seeing Bear’s “sign” around the neighborhood. We’ve caught him/her on the game camera, lumbering up our long driveway. He/she seems to spend a lot of time at our neighbor Steve’s place – where we took this picture. 

We don’t go out of the yard on foot at night – not just Bear, but Cougar prowls the woods here. We keep the dogs very close, our dooryard is very small. We have a lot of sensor lights placed here and there, mostly so we can get to the outhouse at night, but also to let us know when somebody is lurking.

Fox likes to come around. A family of foxes pops up in the storm drain that crosses our driveway every couple of years. Fox crap is so common I wouldn’t stop to take a picture, but when I see a pile of bear crap that big, right in the middle of somebody’s driveway, it’s an event.

Back in Chico my neighbor Michelle texted us that her weed whacker was stolen from her back yard shed. I don’t think she knows when, but I’ll guess it was right in the middle of the day. She leaves her side gate unlocked, which is probably not a good idea.  Her shed lies directly along my driveway, and that makes me uncomfortable – somebody can waltz in her side gate, right past my locked gate, and then hop over into our driveway. 

Of course, they will find locked doors, locked gates, locked, locked, locked. We even lock the upstairs windows. 

But I think a lot of robberies here are happening right under people’s noses – people leave garage doors open and side gates unlocked all over town. They think that’s their right, that they should not have to worry about crime affecting them – “that’s the cops’ job!” Oh yeah? You better tell the cops!

Here in Chico, the police department only has a 9-11 number, and you better be serious. For these “quality of life” crimes, they have a website, you have to log-in and go through an onerous process, to report the theft of a $100 weed whacker? Our county DA will not prosecute anything less than $950. 

My windows look right down on Michelle’s shed. While I can’t be staring down every minute, I can’t remember seeing the door shut, much less locked. Too bad – it’s a very solid built shed, I watched the previous neighbor build it, and if Michelle locked it she’d have no problem. But she leaves the door propped open, tools all over the ground, right within view of an unsecured gate that leads to the street. 

I’m sorry to be so mean, but really, people need to wake up. 







Neighbor from another world


Two fisted eater


Whenever we stay at our little shack in the woods, we get bugs.  The mosquitoes are small but vicious. There are deer flies, who have a sharp, mean bite. And there are the meat bees, who swarm around every time I feed the dogs. They swat away easily, Badges likes to snap at them, but it’s alarming when there are more than 5 or 6. 

So I was glad to find this little predator under the deck one day, a big momma praying mantis. Above she has not one but two meat bees. 

She lives under the water spigot, where the meat bees drink from the end of the tap. They can live off the tiny drop of water that is caught in the end of the faucet. They provide an endless source of food for Mrs. Mantis. 

When I feed the dogs early in the morning, before the sun has risen above the pines, they come out of … somewhere… and begin swarming around the dogs. There were so many this morning I put the dishes and dogs in the shack and shut the door.

They go nuts for the peas I put in the dog food – green peas, soaked with chicken fat. They get so excited they try to carry them away, wrestling the peas around the edge of the patio railing, while Mrs. Mantis sways back and forth below, waiting for some chicken fat crazed bee to swing around her way.

And then SNATCH!  She’s got a bee in her big pincer claw, and wastes no time in gobbling it down. 

Often times the other bees come swarming mad around her, as if they know she’s made a meal of one of their sisters. I’ve read these bees usually nest together, taking turns building their paper nests, and then feeding their bird-like babies. I had a wasp nest in my window once, the baby comes out just like a little bird, and the mommie bee feeds it a little scrap of whatever it’s foraged from some bbq grill or garbage pail.

So they come at Mrs. Mantis, two or three at a time. One even seemed to give her a nip on her Kardashian size bottom. She remains so peaceful and calm, munching away – when the bee nipped her behind, she stepped forward a couple of paces, without missing a bite. I was pretty surprised when I saw her whip out the other pincer and grab a second bee right out of the air.

So vicious, she is an elegant lady, her green-purple coat ruffling at the ends. Each bite is Marie Antoinette dainty, and after every meal she cleans herself carefully, even as more bees buzz and charge around her head.  She holds herself still and erect, very regal, moving only her head, watching everything with her big bulbous eyes. She seems to look right at me sometimes, and I’m very glad I’m not a bug.

There’s been a big change in the weather here – 100 degrees on Labor Day, Tuesday clouds and rain, thunder and lightening, today temperatures staying in the 90’s. Fall is moving in on Summer, like “hey, give somebody else a chance in there!”

So Mrs. Mantis will lay her eggs soon, in her big foamy egg case. My husband hopes she will attach it somewhere that we can get it and place it here in the garden. That would be swell.




New opt-out information for Enterprise Record trash mailer Market Value Place

Wednesday my stats show one of the busiest days on this blog. Looking down the lists of searches and hits, I saw 18 specific searches for opt out information – the most common term – “m.v.p. – market value place” –  and 11 different posts were hit,  specifically about the local edition of Market Value Place.

I remarked about this to my husband – there are always searches for this specific information on the stats report, at least 5 or more a week.  But Wedneday was a new high. The next day showed almost at many. 

He said, “Oh, I forgot to tell you… when me and Biscuit went out the other morning, those things were all up and down the street.” 

My neck hairs stood up – “it wasn’t in our driveway was it?” I’ve made it very clear to the staff down at Chico Enterprise Record, who prints and distributes this ready-made trash, that it better not show up in my mail box or driveway again. Now they don’t put it in your mailbox, they have someone drive up your street and huck them on the ground at the end of every driveway. 

My husband said “Nope,” and I know he wasn’t just lying to keep me from getting pissed off – he saw that getting pissed off made a difference, so he’s learned to leave the old dog a little bit more lead.

I think it tickles him to see me on a tear, especially when I’m right.

I’ve  been noticing these searches on the increase for about a week, so I had already contacted ER staffer Jenny Jurdana to ask if the opt-out information was still good, and just to rub a little salt in her ass – I told her my blog had been hit hard with requests for this information lately.

I’m always polite with this gal, despite the fact that lemmings like her make me sick, and she’s always cheerful and professional. Well good for that, there’s a lot of cubicle space in Hell for people who are cheerful and professional about doing bad things.

Hi Juanita, 

We have a new point person for Opt Out requests. Folks can send the request to Clint Royer at croyer@chicoer.com.

Thanks, Jenny”

So there it is – new opt out information for Market Value Place.

Stay firm people, it really works.

Roughing It, conveniently

 I am sitting in our shack in the woods listening to a really persistent cricket. 

We came up here to stay a few nights because we found it is just above the smoke. The valley is socked in with fires burning in every direction.

The challenge to staying up here is, no air conditioning. We have electricity but not enough wiring to install any big appliances.  Of course, that has not been much of a concern until this summer,  the temperatures have been unusually high all over California – 100 in Hayfork? That’s friggin’ hot people.

Here, just 15 or 20 minutes above town, it’s oftentimes 10 or 15 degrees cooler than the valley, making an awesome  getaway. 

Not this summer – Monday it was 100 degrees up here.  There’s a good swimming hole nearby – packed to the rafters for Labor Day. We have a plastic horse trough that we fill with water to use for a dip, but the inside of the shack was almost 90. We had to cool it off, and opening the windows wasn’t an option. 

We pondered – better to sweat it out here, or go home and sit in the house all day?

Luckily our late friend Mark left us the most wonderful gift – his almost new portable air conditioner.  Actually, he had told his son, if he died, to give us the contents of his shed. He was a smart man – he knew that shed was full of junk, it would have been overwhelming for his son to clean it all out. But, Mark knew that shed was also full of stuff my husband would use – like the roof shingles we used to patch the roof at the house we just sold. Mark had those left over from his own roof repair, and they were just enough to do our job. See how your friends watch out for you?

What a miracle this little a/c unit is – it has a collapsible vent that will pull out to almost six feet, you the open end in a partially open window to let out the hot air. You don’t have to add water or anything, just turn it on, and within minutes the air is degrees cooler. 

We were afraid it would blow out a fuse at the old shack. Last winter we had a small heater in the outhouse, on a timer so it would warm the room up in the morning, and when I got up and turned on the coffee maker, the fuse blew out. My husband reminded me, as he put on his boots to hike out in the snow and flip the switch, I have to go to the outhouse and turn off the heater before I make a cup of coffee, simple enough. And boy it’s nice to have that heater in the outhouse when it’s 35 outside.

So we ran the little ac all by itself for about 45 minutes, and what do you know – we got the inside of the shack down to about 80, which is cooler than we usually keep our apartment at home.

By bedtime, the Delta Breeze was hooting her way up the canyon, and we slept with the windows open.  

 Here’s the funny thing – we were ready for another hot day, but it didn’t come. The sky clouded over about mid-day, and the temperatures stalled in the 80’s. We drove back to Chico to run some errands – the smoke was still thick around town, and the air was hot too. So we picked up some ice and a few odds and ends and headed back to the shack.

At about 4 pm, the sky got really dark and the breeze turned into a wind. Thunder rolled in the distance.  

We keep our cooking stuff on the deck outside – one of those wheeled racks is great for holding the camp stove and the electric skillet, and an old metal filing cabinet on wheels holds the toaster oven. We dragged those into the shack, along with the dog beds and the patio chairs, and sat cozy watching the storm come in.

It was short but sweet – a nice gentle shower, only lasted about 10 minutes. But the air was remarkably different.

Now I can see out across the canyon below – smoke blots out the valley beyond the next ridge, where I can usually see the highway interchange and Table Mountain far away in the background. But up here the air is clear, it smells good. 

I always thought the biggest challenge to living up here would be the occasional week of snow.  Now I realize how spoiled I’ve become with modern convenience. Electric coffee maker, toaster oven, computer, tv!  Air conditioning!?

Ma and Pa Kettle Go to Town.