Thursday, November 19, 2009


I must say, it was pretty exciting getting those seeds in the ground and carefully covering them up. You would think we were putting a baby to bed. The next trick is watering the seeds with a fine spray. If you are too forceful, you will create a major flood and the seeds will need a boat to survive. But everyday we would go out to the garden to see if there was anything green peeking through the soil And everyday we were greeted with nothing but brown dirt. Then at last after a couple of weeks we saw just the slightest hint of green where we had planted the spinach. Then after a few more days there were hints of radishes and lettuce. Can you imagine the thrill? It is like giving birth all over again. Wow, look what I created!!! We had visions of fat leafy spinach and radishes the size of baseballs. So, the next anticipation was watching these plants grow. They grew slowly and then just stopped. The radishes were the size of a marble. Have you heard the term, baby spinach? Well, it was baby alright. It took a whole row to make one salad. Oh, yes and the lettuce. Same story as the spinach. But what the heck. Not to be defeated, with the weather past the frost stage, we went on to plant tomatoes, corn, beans, squash and peppers.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

With the economy the way it is,my husband and I decided last spring that we needed to have a veggie garden. Having minimal knowledge about gardening, we spent many hours digging up ground and turning it over. Then we decided that raised beds are the way to go. Too stubborn to buy a rototiller,(who needs one) we shoveled and raked. I forgot to mention that we live in a high desert area where the only vegetation are Juniper and weeds who thrive on volcanic soil and not much else.

The next thing on our list was to visit the local nursery and buy seeds. Oh, first we had to determine what would grow in temperatures reaching a high of 29 degrees at night. That decided, we bought radish, lettuce, and spinach seeds. The helpful nursery man told us that he had a special fertilizer mixture that would ensure growth of healthy hearty plants. Sounded good to us. So, armed with seeds and a bag of special super duper fertilizer, we donned hats, garden gloves,and hoes and got to work.

Visions of rows and rows of lovely green plants just aching to be picked and eaten danced through our heads. Now all we had to do was water and wait.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

A Lake Shastina Milestone, sort of

For the first time since we began real estate here I saw a home listed for under $100,000 (above, on Cottontail Dr.). As you might suspect it needs work and is dated. It is also I think, an REO or real estate owned. That is, the bank owns it because the owner gave it back to them under duress.

There are a rising number of these it seems. As many Siskiyou County natives say, it takes months for some things to reach us up here. Like the foreclosure waves rippling through the bay area for example. This week we met with a Redding broker looking for help with the REO's and foreclosures here. He has so many, and spread so far out, that he doesn't have time to drive up and show or take pictures.

Prices per square foot are below $100 more commonly, too. It used to be that $100 per foot was the builder's cost and in olden times homes were selling at $125 or even $145, where the builder could make a decent profit. Of course older homes should be less per foot than brand new ones; they have wear and tear, often need updating, and lack modern amenities.

The home above is $63 per square foot and owned by Countrywide, one of the first casualties of the ARM loan collapse. The bank is trying to get back what they loaned the owner and it's possible they may have to take a loss on that loan if they can't move the home for the actual balance.

I'm not trying to alarm anyone however. We have all seen home values falling and in extreme cases, owners walking away from their places. Buyers do seem scarce and wary; what if I buy and prices go even lower? Some who have been in the business through previous cycles feel that we are not yet at the turning point where demand has risen close enough to supply for prices to stabilize. Maybe that will happen this year and the certainty about it all is that it WILL happen. Cycles by definition repeat themselves and the supply-demand balance will return sooner than later we feel. Our phones are ringing more lately it seems and we are hopeful.

Friday, January 23, 2009

San Francisco...Our West Coast Gem

Please forgive me if you are from Los Angeles but we just returned from yet another enchanted visit to our favorite city, San Francisco. The photo of two ships crossing under the 'Gate was taken from Fort Baker on the northern end of the bridge and the fort is just one of a thousand attractions in this west coast cosmopolitan city.

We picked a sunny weather window with mild temps and focused on linking up with our grandkids at the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park so it was an A+ trip all around.

First of all we didn't drive around The City. We stayed in the Marina District ($79 at the Cow Hollow Motor Inn with free parking) and took the bus to the Academy. Good thing too, parking was really scarce there. The bus fare was 50 cents and it took about :15 from the motel.

The Academy is a must-see; a recent major remodel of the original and a fantastic job. Aquarium, natural history museum, planetarium, and the big attration . . . a green roof. Planted with native plants that need little water it is an achievement not to mention the edge of the wave. Several urban skyscrapers are adapting the idea.

The same #28 bus also stops at the bridge and we walked about halfway across, just missing the crews ratcheting up the suspension cables to paint them. A container ship was passing below as we marveled.
Yes, the City lives at night. We consistently qualified for the Early Bird Special dinners because we ate before 8PM. The City is just coming awake at that hour. Dinner for us is 7-ish when we are home but that is not the rule with the Beautiful People in this city. Eight PM is when you might ARRIVE at the designated restaurant but you EAT much, much later. San Francisco is a night-life city, far beyond Sally and my means to enjoy.

Not only are the women all young and gorgeous and the men young and hunky but it seemed like every single car was a BMW, Porsche, Saab, or Jaguar. I'm sure I missed the Hyundai's like ours but well, I haven't seen a Bentley in Siskiyou County for a long time so those I did see in SF were a treat.

Did I mention we had East Coast pizza with our grandkids at their favorite pizzeria? There was an Amici's next to the motel that did this kind too, thin crust with the home-baked aroma. Wish we had one here.

Too much to tell, I'll do another installment on Stay tuned.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Soaking Dishes, The Responsible Environmental Response to Global Warming

There is a science to washing dishes as most husbands already know. For example, scrubbing is hard and wasteful work. All work is wasteful, actually. Many tasty sauces and marinades become ugly challenges if left overnight, requiring needless expenditures of energy, water, and Comet. Not to mention the ugly recriminations the next day.

To meet this challenge I have developed The Soaking Formula. It is quite simple really, one just needs to exercise patience. All pans, I repeat, ALL pans must soak overnight in order to conserve water and labor. I have found for example, that when my bride poaches eggs in milk the saucepan becomes encrusted with burned milk. Burned milk is like concrete as we all know.

There is no cure for this although I do employ the most effective pre-wash known to man . . . our pet dogs. They pre-clean this stubborn accretation to the point that, after application of my patented 24 hour soaking formula, all I have to do is say "Oops, was there a pan in the sink?".

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Snow Job

(Editor's Note: This is my adaptation of a joke I got in an email. It's like the anonymous sign in the auto parts store "The beatings will stop when morale improves" or the anti-stress poster "Beat your head here until you don't feel any more stress".I have no idea who started it but I have replaced some of the expletives for the sake of propriety.)

We always have loved the mountains. We lived in southern California for so long and are so tired of the traffic, the crime, the . . . well, you know.

So when I finally retired and the kids were all gone we sold out and moved to the High Sierra where they have four REAL seasons as opposed to our one (smog).

The first winter storm was just gorgeous. Magnificent white flakes (no one is the same, did you know that?) fluttered down from the night sky to embrace our home with a sugary coating. It was easy to shovel the driveway, too. The neighbor said it was a "dry snow", whatever that means.

Oh, now it's Thanksgiving and I've got some REAL shoveling to do. Ha ha ! It's a little heavy though, the storm was a little more "serious" according to Fred but hey, this is what we wanted, to get back in touch with Mother Nature, right?

A little sore this morning, but nothing a session in the hot tub can't cure. Power is out though, so I'll hope the tub works tomorrow.

Wow, I can hardly see the hot tub now, this last storm really clobbered us! But this is why we moved here: snow up to the fence-tops, that's Mother Nature at work!

Broke the shovel today, need to go buy another but can't get out of the driveway.

The snowplow piled a mountain DIRECTLY in front of my driveway! Can you believe this guy!?! And to beat that, it's frozen now. Solid ice. Still don't have a new shovel.

Okay, I get it. You need to know the home phone number of the plow driver and probably threaten his children. How come the schools get plowed out and I don't, hmmmm? He might be Mafia or maybe related to that jerk I fired a couple of years ago.

The little woman is getting testy. Splitting and hauling wood to cook on our Decorator Wood Stove was not in our plan but with my injured back what does she expect???

I'm really freaking tired of this. That bloody plowman is on my list now. Every time my snowblower (with electric start but the power is still out) breaks down HERE HE COMES AGAIN !! HE KNOWS I HATE HIM. He KNOWS that I put the garbage cans right where he can KNOCK THEM OVER. Hah! I am going to find out where he lives and sic Guido on him !!!

Power has been off for three days now and we are living on cans of Chef Boyardee and beginning to enjoy it. My lower back is now in the 'don't even talk to me' stage and the wife is threatening to go back to southern California where she says the sun is still shining.

Alright. I'm not going to deal with this neanderthal plow guy any more. If I see him I'll shoot his #*@!? little truck right in the gas tank. The wife and I have separated and my letters to the editor are going nowhere.

They wrapped me in this funny suit today just because I was running up the street and I forgot to get dressed first. It's a Scandanavian thing but they claim I torched the house on purpose. They just don't understand . . . . it’s because I just don’t want to shovel anymore!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Watching for Katie

We own three rescue shelties as many of you already know. Rescue means they were given up by their owners for whatever reason and are in effect, in the pound so not only is this the only way we could afford one but it gives you that warm fuzzy feeling you get when you take an animal home from the shelter.

Oliver for example was a trade for fixing somebody's rototiller because he was too tall to show which is what his owner wanted and she couldn't afford the repair. Andrew was dumped by some vile breeder on a logging road outside Hilt with no collar or tags and loaded with ticks and burrs. His only 'fault' was he was a little fat.

And Tiffany is well, skitzy . . beautiful but emotionally challenged. She would not show well either but for behavior reasons.

Anyway, we walk them through the neighborhood regularly and we are both facinated at their ability, all three of them, to remember where each neighbor dog is. For instance, a neighbor up the street has a gorgeous Irish Setter named Katie. She is usually on a lead by his garage, lounging and watching the passers-by with her toys at hand.

But Ollie thinks she's fearsome. For yards before we reach the house he's pulling and 'yapping' (in quotes because he's de-barked). Also, she's 'there' even if she's not. Most times in other words, the garage is closed and she's gone with her owner somewhere. But Ollie doesn't buy this. She is there SOMEWHERE and he just KNOWS it. He anticipates that she is there / not-there fifty yards away and point his gaze directly at the garage, hoping perhaps that his intuition has not disappointed him. This is a lot like 'eyes left!' in the miltary.

He did (and continues to pull even now) the same thing at Ed Dallara's house on Hogan. Ed, who passed away some months ago, used to cruise the neighborhood with his walker giving out treats to all the dogs he met. If Ed saw us coming he'd open his garage to come out with the biscuits. He had many doggie friends who are very disappointed at his passing and Ollie is just one of them.

Ollie never forgot this man. Or his home. Or the biscuits. We still come to a tugging halt when we walk by his place, even though the garage is closed now.

The thing is THEY REMEMBER. Places where they were, places where nice people were. Why am I not surprised at this?