For lurkers and others: this is the warning sticky post.
It's fine with me if you want to look around, read here and there, read the whole thing if you want. I don't care. If I did care, all these entries would be locked, but they aren't. It's all out here. There are even tags and memories to help you out.
But remember: this is my blog, my personal space, my opinion. I do not censor it to make people happy. I write what I want and the truth as I see it. So if you're stalking, looking for trouble, looking to see if I wrote about you - you might find what you're looking for, and you might not like it.
Don't come crying to me if you've been secretly reading and then discover that I think you're crazy, that your mother is an alcoholic, that your partner is a worthless parasite, that you bug the shit out of me... 'cause it might be in here. Then again, I might write that you're really nice and I like you a lot and hope you'll come to dinner.
All non-friend comments are screened. I delete troll comments, so just because you leave me a comment doesn't mean it will ever see the light of day.
Every year since 1980 I have made a trek up into the mountains to cut a Christmas tree. Gary suggested that we go to a different area than the one I have been going to, so I duly got the permit and the maps, and we headed north on Sunday.
The maps they give you initially look helpful, but when you are driving up the freeway trying to determine if that green square on the map (tree cutting permitted) is accessible at this freeway exit or the next one, and then when you take the exit and realize everything at the exit seems to be private property, you begin to have your doubts. The roads designated as Forest Service access roads are not marked as such; in fact, they aren't marked at all. "Small animal ran through the brush here" describes many of those roads. The map also does not show that a green square may be straight-up-and-down-mountain.
We took an exit that led us pleasantly and unexpectedly close to a section of Southern Pacific railroad that runs right along the upper Sacramento River. I spotted what looked like a promising stand of trees up on a hillside, so we parked and headed thataway. The hillside turned out to be about a 60% angle - not impossible to scale, but it was covered very thickly with dry pine needles, which are slicker than deer guts on a doorknob (as we used to say), so that made it rather more difficult. After a lot of grunting, groaning, swearing, and panting, we got to the top of the hill.
Almost immediately we found a perfect tree, a Ponderosa pine. I'd never had a pine Christmas tree before - I was thinking of fir trees - but it was exactly right. Gary cut it and then we started back down the 60% grade hillside. My method was to just sit down and let gravity take over. Gary tried to stay on his feet but eventually gravity took over on him; he wound up sliding downhill to (dragging the tree behind him). Much quicker that way.
The tree is now set up in the living room and decorated. It took its revenge on me by stabbing me in the eye multiple times with its needles (quick lesson on how to tell a fir tree from a pine: fir tree needles are short and point downward; pine needles are long and point upward), but it looks great. And when it has served its purpose, I will cut it up and use it as kindling (cruel, perhaps, but efficient).
Peeps - if you would like a Christmas card from me, please leave me your address in a message (which will be screened so no one else will see it). This is totally no strings attached - I am not asking for anything in return. I just like sending Christmas cards!
auntconi asked for the recipe for the potato dish Gary made for Thanksgiving. This is from The Sandwich King on Food Network, where he calls it "Mom's Mashed Potatoes a la King." He says it makes 4 servings - 4 servings for whom? Honey badgers? There were 8 of us and there were still leftovers. "A la King" makes me think of creamed chicken so I'm calling it
Potato and Celery Root Mash
4 pounds Idaho russet potatoes (about 5 potatoes), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 pound celery root, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 sticks butter, 1 softened and 1 melted, plus more for greasing
6 ounces cream cheese
1 cup half-and-half, warmed
1/4 cup prepared horseradish
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/4 cup fresh minced chives
Add the potatoes, celery root and 1 tablespoon salt to a large saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil and cook over medium-high heat until fork tender, about 15 minutes. Drain the potatoes and celery root.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-by-13-inch baking pan.
Whip together the cream cheese and softened butter in a large bowl with a hand mixer on medium speed until thoroughly blended, about 2 minutes. Add the hot potatoes and celery root slowly, alternating with the half-and-half. Whip until blended. Sprinkle with salt and stir in the horseradish, garlic powder and white pepper.
Pour the potato mixture into the prepared baking pan. Pour the melted butter over the potato mixture. Bake until bubbly and slightly brown, about 45 minutes. Garnish with the chives.
P.S. Gary peeled about half the potatoes - really, you don't have to peel them at all. Just scrub them. And he used sliced green onions in place of chives.
It's been very, very windy here today (more tomorrow) and cold. I've had a fire going all day but it doesn't do much good when the wind finds its way in anyway. I don't mind, really; it's better than being miserably hot and sweaty in midsummer.
Next week is Thanksgiving here in the US. We're having it on Friday instead of Thursday due to scheduling conflicts with people who have to attend dinner with their other families. I am sad that my nephew Joe won't be able to make it - he lives 200 miles away and his boss asked if he would like to work on Friday. Seeing as how he spent the last 7 months walking from Mexico to Canada, he needs the money and can't really justify a round-trip train/bus ticket up here for one day - but still, I'm bummed. I haven't asked him what he will be doing instead because I can't stand the thought of him not having anywhere to spend Thanksgiving - though he almost certainly has invitations.
Remember a couple of weeks ago I posted about a crazy customer I had from my Etsy shop? The one who hated the dress she bought and wanted an immediate refund plus her customs charges? She opened a case with PayPal - why, I don't know - and I provided my information (which was that if she returned the dress, I would refund her). PayPal told her that I would repay her IF she returned the dress (the same thing I told her), but that she had to provide PayPal with proof she returned it. She didn't. I won. Don't have to pay her anything. She was an extortionist and not a very good one.
Fifty years ago tomorrow I was in second grade. We were in class when Mrs. Kumle, who lived across the road, burst in and said, "The president has been shot." (I went to a two-room school that you just opened the door and entered the classroom so it was easy for anyone to just walk right in and be in class.) I remember Mark Smith (first grade) laughed. Mrs. George, the teacher, turned on the radio - the school did not have a television or a telephone. Other than that, I don't remember anything other than asking my mother why it happened and she said some people don't like the president, which was enough of an explanation for me.
I understand the significance of the day, the marking of the historical event, and I wish I was more interested, but I'm just not. Maybe because it's been rehashed so many times that it was never out of the public consciousness for long, but other than the observance of the passage of fifty years and the what-ifs, my interest is minimal.
I had more to write but I'm getting sleepy. See you later -
One of the pleasures (if you want to call it that) of living out in the sticks is that you cannot depend on public utilities and services to be available when you need them. You need to be somewhat self-sufficient. Not necessarily be able to go out and wrassle a bear or create a lean-to out of pine needles in the snow - I guess those are useful skills, but not really on a day-to-day basis - but be able to survive five days without electricity or running water (this happens whenever we have a major snowstorm), perform minor nursing on small animals, kill venomous creatures, and fix shit that gets broken in weird ways.
Picture this: you have a house. About 20 feet in front of the house is a one-lane paved road that goes nowhere, but there it is. Some 90 years ago, a culvert pipe was placed under the road to run water to your house and on down (eventually) to a river. In the ensuing 90 years, the pipe has aged, developed cracks and then holes. Water still flows into the pipe, but it finds the path of least resistance - the holes - and goes out that way. Some of the water heads downhill away from your house, but not all of it; the rest runs slowly into your yard. And to complete the picture, about 25 years ago, the water service (as they laughingly call themselves) district formally "abandoned" that section of culvert in favor of a much more convoluted and less efficient system to get irrigation water to your house (when water is not being stolen upstream by the Mexican cartel, but that's another story).
Over the years you have made many attempts to get someone, anyone, to fix this. You call the county roads department and they say they can't do anything because it's the water company's pipe. The water company says they abandoned that section of pipe and anyway, there's a county road on top of it. At one point in the 1990s my mother and I constructed and poured a small concrete dam to hold back the water; it worked surprisingly well for a long time even though some people laughed at our work. However, that dam has deteriorated to the point that it's really just pieces of cement.
Kafkaesque pretty well describes the situation.
Today I spent a lengthy amount of time clearing out the cattails, rushes, and assorted roots and whatnot that's grown up in the watery morass so I could see what I was dealing with. At one point the water really got out of control and was a stream running into my yard. I found a piece of tin roofing and was able to divert it back downhill, along with some bricks to reinforce the tin. I piled grasses, rushes, mud and gravel in between the bricks. It's not much better than it was before I started, but it isn't any worse.
The situation as it stands now is probably going to require another bag of Portland cement. I don't mind working with cement; it's really quite simple to mix and pour (once you have constructed your forms). The problem is that it is usually packaged in 94 pound/43 kg bags, which is not just heavy, it's damn heavy. However, now they've started selling it in 47 lb/21 kg bags - much easier to deal with.
Will consider options, of which there aren't many.