Thank goodness for visitors – no better excuse for cleaning your house

Whenever I’m expecting visitors my house suddenly looks like a mess. I  usually start a few days ahead and work myself to a frazzle washing and scrubbing.

My son and his girlfriend are coming for the weekend, so I’ve been washing everything that can’t run away (I’ll have to get my husband to help me with the dogs!)

Our dogs are inside a lot, so I’m always worried the house stinks to people who don’t have dogs.I know they’re my kid’s, but I don’t want them to think I’m too old to take care of my house, and I want to fuss over them a little, let them know I’m happy to have them.

But yeah, I do tend to go a little overboard. I wash the walls, baseboards and floors with one or another of Dr. Bronner’s scented soaps, and then I put essential oil in a spray bottle with vinegar and water and hit the windows. Dr. Bronner’s seems expensive but you can dilute it with two parts water. I like lavender and citrus the best, but peppermint is another fave.

I washed a lot of linens, and hung blankets out to air. I got into a wrestling match with the big Mexican fleece blanket my mom gave me – even dry, it weighs a ton.  I was ready to call for help when I finally got it off the line. I was huffing and puffing, straining to get a hold of the whole thing. Made an ass of by a blanket, no kidding.

And the furniture never suits me. I always want to move stuff. My husband tries to be patient – we just moved this little hutch, and then I found another table I want in the same spot. He’ll go along so far, so I have to prioritize, try to decide what’s just whimsy  and what is a good idea.

Thank goodness we moved into this tiny apartment, I ain’t as young as I was when we had our ranch style rambler! After two days of freaking out, cleaning stuff – crawling under stuff, moving furniture – I’m just about shot. My arms are floating. My back has given notice, threatening to quit me! So today I’ll recuperate so I’ll have some energy left for the kids. My sons and their girlfriends like to go hiking, go to a good swimming hole – I don’t want to be a drag.

Oh geeshy sakes, my house just looks fabulous! Thank goodness for visitors.




Getting ready to make a big move, packing up the memories

My husband and I have made a tough decision to sell our home and get out of the town we’ve both known since childhood. We met here, got married here, our kids were born here.

Not so tough a decision, really. Just today the newspaper reports the city is allowing a “tiny house village” for transients to be erected in a parking lot at a prominent intersection. When you go out   around Chico – and not just Downtown – they’re everywhere. And they’re getting bold, when you don’t give them a handout, you get cursed at. If you ask them to leave you alone they say, “Or what?” We don’t leave our bike or our truck unguarded around town anymore, one of us stays behind. It’s sickening to see what’s happened to a town that I’ve known all my life.

I hate being a quitter,  but it’s time to cut and run.  Chico is over.

So, we have to get our place ready to sell. While the rental up front and the apartment are in pretty good shape, the back acre needs a lot of work. We have abandoned the garden and turned the water off to the orchard. There’s a big compost pile and a gi-normous brush pile to get rid of. And then there’s my kids’ “pump track”.

When the oldest was about 11, he and his 7 year old brother took flat shovels and started digging the pump track. A pump track is set up with bumps and dips.   They’d got the special bike at a police auction. A modified BMX bike, it has no real seat, just a kind of post cover. You’re not supposed to sit, you pedal and pedal to get up the bump and the momentum of the down side propels you over the next bumps.

I was excited for the physical fitness aspect, but I also liked it because it constituted a legal fire break across the back acre, meaning my husband didn’t have to mow so much. As the kid’s friends started coming over to ride, the weeds got beaten down, the back acre took on an almost park like appearance.

And then they got their air soft guns. Since we didn’t want them taking those off the property, we let them set up a little range around their pump track. Of course all their friends had air soft guns too. My husband bought a bunch of welding glasses for eye protection, and we all agreed to a certain distance – no close up shots.

They made a rule among themselves – no heavy clothing, so everybody knew when they got shot.

We determined the acceptable distance by having our friend, Aaron Standish, an incredibly good sport, walk away while we shot at him. “Ow! Ow! Ow!… Okay, that’s good!”

It was his idea.

The kids built little forts and blinds out of brush, they erected targets. My husband and I set up lawn chairs on a mound of leftover construction dirt and laughed out loud as the kid’s chased each other in heated combat. “You’re dead!” “No I’m not!” “You are TOTALLY dead!”

And then they discovered disc golf. At that time there was no established course in town, except the long-time “bootleg” course located at an old game preserve – Musty Buck! – East of town. That course was a drive and it was pretty rugged, right in the ridge overlooking Upper Bidwell Park. We traveled to other courses, as far away as Glory Hole. My husband and kids decided we could have a nice course in the back acre.

They made baskets and “dinger” posts out of stuff like discarded fence posts and bike tire rims. My grandfather was a farmer who made and fixed his own equipment . He never threw away a spare part. The kids dived into Grandpa’s junk and came up with all kinds of creative targets and baskets.

They plotted out their course and played it almost daily for the next couple of years.

When my older son moved into the second unit at another rental, started working and going to school, his little brother was left to find new ways to entertain himself. He became interested in roller hockey, and when my kid’s get interested in something it becomes a family focus. We all fell into it, and life revolved around hockey for the next 5 or 6 years.

The league found their own building, which needed a lot of work, and the parents pitched in to fix it up. The had a rink to set up, but the floor of the rink – “sport court” – was pretty crapped out. They bought new flooring and the old flooring went into the dumpster. One day my husband and son realized it would still be good for something, and hauled it all out, two truck loads. 

I like to see my kid’s focused on something, really care about it. So when the little one started talking about making his own practice rink in our back yard, using the old sport court, I didn’t want to discourage him. But I couldn’t visualize it, out there in the weeds and dirt clods.  But he has always been a stubborn tyke. Every day after we finished home school he was out there with his flat shovel. My husband would inspect the job site every day after work. One day he brought home bags and bags of floor patch – a cement like substance spread on rough, cracked cement base before vinyl flooring is laid on it.

Once the boy had the ground flat and firm, they mixed up the floor patch and spread it, nice and thick. I couldn’t believe it – he had a sort of cement floor, over which he laid his sport court squares. He made his own net out of a section of hogwire, fastened to the ground with rebar. And it was a practice rink!

He even made his own wooden pucks – pucks are expensive, and he didn’t want to take a chance losing one in the weeds.  I could hear him hitting that hogwire all the way back in the kitchen.

That property really served us well. As the city permitted smaller and smaller, yardless lots in new subdivisions, having a back yard became quite a novelty. Our kids’ friends were over here every chance they got. 

But now the back acre is a swamp of weeds. Wild grapes have started making their way into the oak trees. Two of the big trees in the front yard have died and tree man wants about $1200 per tree. The property tax bill, with all the bonds, is over $6,000/year. Work work work, spend spend spend. It’s funny how something you loved once becomes a ball and chain. 

So that’s why I haven’t been posting much lately. My life is kind of depressing right now. First the kids grew up, dammit! And now the house is too much to maintain. 

But I’m getting used to the idea of selling.  I like to move on every now and then, before the rut gets too deep. Somewhere in the back of my head I can always hear Lee Marvin warbling soft and gruff, “I was born under a wandering star…”




No more worldofjuanita, something new on the horizon – waaaaay over there!

I’ve been neglecting this blog, mostly because it’s election time, and I been spending whatever time I have on my blog, bitching about stuff.

What was it Harvey TwoFace liked to say – “we’re of two minds on everything…” or something like that. I have tried to keep these two blogs separate, so I can come over here and act all nice and talk about food and yard work and nature and stuff. But the politics creep into my life in the form of bonds tacked onto my property taxes and sales tax hikes that affect everything from soap to toothpaste to new socks. 

So I do what I was taught – every woman in my family is ready to take up a post with a pile of nothing but rocks if that’s what we got and fight tooth and nail (yes I’ll bite and scratch if you get me in a corner) for what we believe in.

Here in California, what I believe in is under assault right now, by people who don’t believe in Democracy, people who don’t have any work ethic, and people who believe those who do must carry those who won’t.

Worst of all, the town we’ve invested our lives in has become a foreign country. People come from every where to take public “service” positions in California, cause the salaries and benefits are through the roof and there’s plenty of tax money to pay them. And here’s the thing: the public workers are starting to out number the private sector employees, enough to throw elections. 

You might think public employees serve the public – here in California it’s the other way around. The California public sector has made us all into Tax Slaves. Three agencies in Chico are contemplating tax measures, separately. They don’t want to share their pots, they want all the money for themselves. 

That makes it hard for landlady – if I just  tacked those bonds onto my rents, that would be the biggest rent increase I’ve ever made. But if I pay them myself, that’s less money for repairs and maintenance. I feel sometimes like the government has it in for Mom and Pop – we own too much real estate – one of our landlord friends owns over 40 rentals in town. They want us to sell, so all those properties will bring in more property tax. They don’t want people to hold onto their homes, those values Americans historically hold dear are under attack in California.

So, what do you do when you suddenly realize you’re outnumbered, that the powers that be are going to run a railroad track through your living room? Like Arthur Dent, you get the hell out, that’s what you do, and that’s what my husband and I are planning to do.

So, World of Juanita is all Koyaanisquatsi these days. I’m not renewing my domain this year. I’m going to put what energy I have right now into fighting the revenue measures the city and the parks and rec district are planning to foist on us, and I’m going to keep a third eye on the jokers out at the airport, who want a million-plus dollars a year to guarantee air service in a town of less than 100,000 people that’s less than two hours from airports in both directions.  

The good news is, when the dust settles, I’m going to start a new blog about what I’m doing now. I don’t know what I’ll call it. I can’t really talk about it because I don’t know how it’s going to work out. 

Stayed Tuned! Cause I like having you people around!

Ah, that first rain smells so good! Time to do some transplanting

My husband and I were mowing yards yesterday when we felt those first raindrops. What a long, dry Summer it was this year.

I’ve been dying to do some transplanting.  A few years ago I took some time to separate bulbs and rhizomes and move them around my yard. This year it paid off, with purple irises all over in Spring and intense pink amaryllis in late summer. I don’t remember when I’ve seen so many Amaryllis flowers, not only in my front yard but in yards all over my Chico neighborhood.

Last spring I was gifted some really special irises by one of my tenants. Not only are they some beautiful showy varieties, but he got them from a relative who just happens to be a member of one of my favorite old rock and roll bands. It came up in conversation when his parents visited. His father mentioned that they were having dinner with a cousin who lived near Chico. He said something like, “oh you wouldn’t know him, but years ago he and his friends wrote a little song called ‘Pipeline.'” He sincerely thought I wouldn’t know what he was talking about.

I almost choked. “You mean your cousin is a member of the Chantays?”

He seemed genuinely surprised that I would remember the Chantays. Not only do I remember the Chantays, I remember sitting in front of my grandma’s television screaming my head off when I watched them on Ed Sullivan in about 1963. That video is available on YouTube, and when I had better Computer Service I watched it almost everyday when I got up in the morning.

I got positively giddy babbling at my tenant’s parents, I was embarrassed of myself when my husband finally dragged me away. But, I apparently made an impression, because the next time I saw my tenant he had half dozen potted irises that his father’s cousin had sent to me. My tenant showed me pictures he had taken on his phone of his relative’s incredible iris patch.

I sincerely felt unworthy. Growing up with my grandmother and her friends, I met Iris afficionados never gave away their rhizomes, they acted as though they were family heirlooms, made of gold.

So I fussed and flustered over those pots all Summer, moving them to different spots around my yard, trying to find exactly the perfect location. Irises like a mixture of sun and shade, my best blossoms come up around Big Trees.

I finally found some really nice dirt under a big oak tree that I have been mulching for a long time. I’m nervous about putting them in the ground, even though they’re covered with new growth. I guess I’m waiting for more rain.

I’m feeling the same anxiety about transplanting my horde of aloe vera plants, which are over growing their little pots and need to be separated.


These plants multiply fast under the right conditions. I feel like the Old Woman Who Lived in a Little Tiny Greenhouse.

They also need to be somewhat protected in winter, and I have so many there’s barely any room in my little Greenhouse. I don’t have room for them in my apartment either, and I’m afraid they would stain my fake wood floor.

So I’ve posted about a dozen plants on Craigslist for sale. I don’t know that many people who want to fuss over potted plants, and most of my friends who appreciate aloe vera already have their own plants. And maybe I’ll get a few bucks for Christmas shopping.

I’ll have to put some in one of those Iris pots I got from my tenant’s rock and roll relative. They really look showy in the right pot.

But I’ll keep most of my horde. I not only use copious amounts on my skin, I drink about 3 oz of sap a day in my fruit smoothie. I know it’s great for my skin, my hands get so chapped and cracked in this dry weather. Aloe sap works like a miracle cure, within 24 hours I’ve seen bad cracks heal up on my knuckles. And I believe it’s a great tonic for my stomach and digestive tract. I get up every morning with a hungry stomach ache, and a quick smoothie always makes me feel better.

This change in the weather sure has me feeling better. I was afraid my entire yard would dry up and die before the rain came. Rain has brought back my optimism.