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:

http://www.silverdollarspeedway.com/forsberg-steals-win-on-final-lap-at-silver-cup/

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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

 

 

 

 

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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. 

 

Cars are the dominant life form on our planet

My kid got hit by a goddam car on his bike yesterday. He  was on campus, riding to class, and had a mild difference of opinion over right-of-way.

I had to tell the boy – bikes don’t have “right of way” . He got a $90 ticket for thinking he was equal to a car.

Don’t you know, cars are the dominant life form on this planet. Listen to Ford Prefect.

 

Oh yeah, I can laugh now. Here’s what I looked like when I got the news yesterday.

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I texted this picture to my son while he was waiting to leave the scene of the accident and told him to show it to the driver who hit him. I wanted to eat human ass right at that point.

I’ve been a cyclist since I was 16. There have been many lessons – the main lesson – cars don’t care about you. Some of them are hostile toward bikes. When I was teaching my kids to ride I saw car drivers do stuff that made me wonder about human intelligence.

Here’s the most common behavior to watch for when you ride a bike –  they race ahead of a bike to make a turn in front of the bike. 

While the cops at the scene determined, through some logic of their own, that the car had the right of way in my son’s accident, I’m going to say – if I were driving the car I would have slowed down at the sight of a bike in my space and let the bike go ahead. I just frankly like to know where bikes are, I’m much more comfortable giving them plenty of space. Knowing my son, I don’t think he raced ahead to get in front of a car, I’m pretty sure an impatient car driver decided that my son was not going to get in her way or slow her down.

Call me prejudice, but let me ask – how much time to you spend on the seat of a bike?

Yes, I hope my son will be more of a defensive driver in future, that’s just the lot of the cyclist, have eyes in the front, back and sides of your head. Expect the worst behavior, and gee, maybe you’ll be pleasantly surprised once in a while. I also told him to remember this incident every time he gets in his truck.

Luckily everything is okay, he went to the hospital and got checked out, no stitches for the gash over his eye.  The bike is trashed, but it was his junker, traded from a kid at this dorm a couple of years ago, used for exactly this purpose, getting around campus. 

Now our biggest problem is how to pay for the ct scan and other hospital charges. I’ll keep you posted, right here on This Old Lady!

New opt-out contact for Market Value Place – croyer@chicoer.com

Last night the Chico Sustainability Task Force unveiled their 2018 work plan – again I was disappointed but not surprised to see they left off “get rid of Market Value Place”.

Most of you know, because I’m guessing you have come here looking for opt-out information, that MVP is a weekly ad-rag made to look like a newspaper, stuffed with slick ads. It used to be shoved into mailboxes all over town every Wednesday, but I think the publisher – Chico Enterprise Record – found out they were afoul of postal law. 

When I researched the subject of junk mail, I found out mail advertisers are supposed to include their return address or phone number for people to opt out of the mailing. Market Value Place has never done that – instead, they list a number for advertisers to place their ads. When I called that number years ago, I got the Chico Enterprise Record.  The woman who answered hung up on me when I asked for opt-out information, so I started e-mailing Editor David Little. Long story short, Little assigned a staffer to the opt-out position. 

But, he still refuses to put the opt-out information directly on the mailer. Want to know why? Because he promises his advertisers “total market saturation.” That means, they send this pile of tree pulp to everybody who does not subscribe to the paper.  That way, their advertisers are supposed to be reaching everybody in town. What a joke – do these advertisers realize how many of these rags go straight to the trash can without even being unfolded? What would they think if they knew their victims could “OPT OUT”?

So now, they don’t mail it. I have to wonder if that’s because of the law. Now we see them at the end of driveways every Wednesday, wrapped in a plastic bag.  Some of my neighbors never pick them up, they sit and turn to pulp as cars run over them again and again. 

So it does not surprise me how much people hate this rag. A few people have told me it fills their mailbox so that no other mail will fit. One reader reported he went on vacation for a couple of weeks and came home to a mailbox filled with MVP and a notice saying he would have to pick up his other mail at the post office. 

So I try to keep the opt-out information updated, because I get searches for it every week without fail. Still, people land at old posts and get the old information – I just got a note from a nice man yesterday, informing me that Jenny Jurdana is no long the “go to” girl for opt-out – email Clint Royer at  croyer@chicoer.com   

Be polite, all you have to ask is, “please take me off the list for Market Value Place, I no longer wish to receive it at (your address)”

And thank you for doing that – people have to stand up when something isn’t right. Read this:

http://www.andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/hersholt/TheEmperorsNewClothes_e.html

 

 

The rodent called it right – Winter has returned!

Wow, new refrigerator. Neat!

But I guessed right – the drivers were not told anything about our situation, including the correct address. As I stood in my kitchen window yesterday morning at 9:06 I saw a huuuuge unmarked delivery van sail by my driveway, and I just knew.

“An-deeeeee!” I hollered at my husband, who was in the garage, pushing things around to make a temporary space for the old fridge, until we could haul it to our son’s house in Pair-o-dice. He had already seen the truck, and was trotting up our driveway to flag them down. They had stopped at the neighbor’s house – I’ll say, the addresses on our street, with a lot of flag lots, are confusing. I watched the driver jump back in his truck and turn it around – it was swaying and bobbing as he hit one pot hole after another.

That was nothing – you should have seen the looks on their faces when they saw the stairs into the apartment. Nope – all my careful instructions had been in vain. They were so surprised I was afraid they would turn on their tails and make a run for it.

Especially when they saw our old fridge – it’s a big sucker, especially compared to a little tiny delivery man. Young fellows too, I must say, very brave. Watching them scootch that big mother down those stairs made me nauseous, I was positive somebody – maybe the old fridge – was going to get it.

So I went back into the kitchen and hid in the refrigerator nook, calling out for progress reports. When I heard the wheels hit the cement of the patio I just about barfed with relief. After that epic struggle they brought in the new unit without a hitch.

By 10 am we had sent the boys on their way, replaced all our groceries in the new unit, packed up the truck, and were headed up to the camp shack.   Weatherman predicted a rousing comeback for Winter – I knew it, Punxatawny Phil is the man to watch. He said we’d get six more weeks, and sheesh! – he wasn’t kidding. Last week we had lows in the 40’s – within a few days, nighttime temps were back around 31.  We decided to bail out of the apartment for the cold spell and sit it out by the wood stove at the camp shack. We left the heater on 53 to safeguard the pipes and turned off everything else but the new fridge and the box freezer. Doing this a few times a month has kept our PG&E bill under a hundred dollars.

Clouds were skirting in – weird weather, clear and COLD at night and daytime temps in the 60’s with clouds rolling along in sunny skies. As we headed east the sky got darker and darker, a sprinkle of rain hit our windshield as we mounted Hwy 32.

The feathery snowflakes started to appear a mile or so above The Store, but it didn’t look like it would stick. By the time we got to the shack, we had minutes to get our stuff out of the back of the F-150, and secure the rest of the load with a tarp. We’d brought some furniture, our old bed frame and some other comforts, thinking we’d have time before the storm hit to move them in. No such luck!

Within 20 minutes the snow was piling up on the ground. The canyon had disappeared.

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Within 20 minutes the patio was covered with powder.

The old thermometer on the front door that registered 41 degrees when we arrived had dropped to 39. We always keep a box of kindling in the cabin, so we had the stove going pretty quickly, and before we knew it, the temperature in the cabin had climbed to 55, so we could sit inside and watch the storm in comfort.

It didn’t last an hour. The recovery was dramatic. The sun came out and the ground around us glistened, while the eaves drummed with snow melt. 

But it’s still very cold – this morning the old thermometer outside the door registers 24 degrees. I woke up in the night worrying about my sensitive plants back in town  – we had rounded some up under freeze cloth on the front patio, and even set a fan on a timer in the greenhouse for my aloe vera. I don’t think it got to 24 in Chico, but probably cold enough to do some damage.

The nopalitos take a beating, but they’ll come back. 

Today I will rake and burn, stay close to the piles, set a few potatoes in the coals. 

I hope you’re all snug.

 

I can’t wait to get back to Normal

Ever since we kicked out a batch of bad tenants last March and put our old rental on the market, life has been out of whack around here. I keep telling my husband, and he keeps agreeing – I can’t wait to get back to Normal.

Wherever that is.

One thing I’ve learned – don’t look back. The view is dizzying.

I can say, we’ve made forward, positive steps, but we’ve had to climb over some rocks to get here. I can stand on a rock now and then and say, “Wow, this is great, I’m sure glad we’re doing this!” But I’m exhausted, I don’t remember when I’ve been so tired every night.

Frankly, I can’t remember Normal, or even what it looked like. That makes a person giddy, a feeling of not really knowing whether the train is moving or standing still.

We’ve been spending money like mad too, trying to get another rental up and running. We want to make it very efficient so we’re replacing the big refrigerator. We’ve been waiting for President’s Day because the big box stores always have crazy sales. Lowe’s had a 14.5 cubic foot unit for about $450, so we went for it. Oh yeah, it was like cutting out a butt steak paying for it, but now I am relieved – a new refrigerator is a good sell for an apartment. 

But I’ll tell you what it happened so fast. I said to my husband, “Okay, it’s President’s Day weekend, let’s hit the box stores.” He says, “we don’t have to  go out, we can do it all online.” And I’m like, “Wow!” So we sit down at the old box and the next thing you know we’re buying a refrigerator. And guess what, they want to deliver it TODAY!

What ever happened to Sunday?

But I went along with it, flying by the seat of my pants, I started cleaning the old fridge, which had so many magnet and photos and whatnot stuck on there, it was hard to see there was a fridge under there. 

I had my grandma’s fancy serving dishes on top, a gorgeous stem cake plate, a couple of those old silver plated trays, and a neat little punch bowl. I boxed it all up and stashed it away on a shelf in my husband’s shop, who needs that stuff anyway.

Then I went about cleaning the inside of the fridge. After all these years, it’s still a great unit, so we’re giving it to our older son and his girlfriend. That’s been the plan since they moved into a bigger house last Spring. They like to cook and shop in bulk, so they could use it. And it’s a good model, with replaceable parts. The last time we had to get it fixed the guy told us – the new models are pretty much built to be disposable. He showed me how to clean the coils, and I’ve taken good care of the old baby. The kids are excited to get it.

Then we thought we better make a pathway through the apartment. Furniture had to be moved, scrunched in here and there, climb over the credenza to get out of the bedroom, etc. But we did it.

There’s just the matter of getting the old unit down the apartment stairs, and the new unit up. We checked the box indicating we would pay $20 extra for haul away, and I made sure to describe our situation very clearly in the “other” box. When we bought our washing machine three years ago, the operator assured us there would be no problem delivering it upstairs, AND hauling away our old machine – but the driver and his partner gasped when they got to our door. They got those babies in and out – they have a lot of neat equipment – but my husband gave them each $10 more out of guilt, and they were happy to take it.

So in about an hour my husband and I will drag the old box out from it’s tiny cubby, clean the coils, clean the space, and get ready for the delivery people to show up. 

Life just comes at you, doesn’t it? 

 

 

 

Forest policy changing with Trump

Those crazy warm temperatures last week had me ready to bust out the summer sheets. Then BAM! back to the 30’s at night, which is much more February-ish.

It’s hard to resist turning on the heater when I wake up in the morning to 59 degrees in the apartment.  It’s been about 34 degrees on the patio. So when I stumbled out of bed yesterday, I turned the oven up to 500 and got a bowl of dough ready for the oven – before I knew it the apartment was warm and smelling fabulous.

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Sourdough Bob is the life of every party.

But we have another plan to keep our PG&E bill down to a dull roar – whenever we can we pack up and head for our camp shack in the hills. I always turn off all the power strips on the way out, the only things we leave running are the refrigerator and the chest freezer.

Up here we are working on fire clearance, although it’s been too dry to burn, we wander around the woods with rakes and chain saw, clear “fire breaks”, and make piles for later. Our kids made bike trails around our place years ago, digging out a single track with log jumps and little bridges made of scrap wood. I try to keep that clean with a rake so I can meander around the place and look for good firewood.

After a few good windstorms, I noticed two dead black oaks that were hanging over the trail a little precariously – like arches. When I showed them to my husband he took the chainsaw down the trail and cut them into sections we could drag up the hill to our driveway, cut them up small enough for the stove. They had been standing dead for who knows how long – perfectly cured. 

We spent yesterday wandering the woods for more dead trees, dragging them up the hill, cutting and stacking. My arms feel like Super Play Doh, but I got a very admirable stack of wood for my own stove, and a pile in the back of the truck for our kid and his girlfriend to burn in their new house.  We sent him a picture – we’re so broke right now, that’s his birthday present. 

He’s going to be 27 years old, I can hardly believe that. I was just cleaning out a drawer and found a picture of him wearing a diaper, holding on the side of a garden bed to take his first steps. 

We were holding on to the side of the truck, exhausted, admiring our haul, when we noticed smoke was billowing up in the sky – the light on the ground turned that curious yellow color of forest fire. 

We knew it was a controlled burn because we’d seen the signs all the way back in Chico – “Controlled Burn. Do Not Report” Yeah, they must get sick of fielding those calls. We had seen crews all through Fall and Winter, kids from California Conservation Core and some from the Salt Creek jail facility, slashing and stacking all the way across Butte Creek up toward Paradise.  But we hadn’t seen any of those piles being torched when we drove in. 

The smoke was overtaking the sun.

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If we hadn’t seen the signs we would have packed up and got out at this point.

 We sat and watched from our picnic table over lunch, the wind blowing steadily toward Chico. I realize – these people have crews, tools, water trucks – I would never have considered torching a pile at our place in that stiff breeze. 

And then the wind shifted. Before we knew it the woods directly around us were filling with smoke.

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The smoke blew right up to our feet.

 

And then the wind shifted back toward Chico again, just as we were thinking about baling out. We watched the smoke dance in the wind for the rest of the afternoon. But we never smelled it or felt overwhelmed as we continued to chainsaw and rake around our own piles.

I’m glad for this kind of work to be done, it’s long over due. It’s been too politicized with the Obama administration, now I’ve heard Trump is funding these fire safety clearance programs again and that’s fine with me.