Sunday, April 27, 2014

California Backroads – Paskenta Pioneer days

We headed over to Paskenta, California today. The weather was chilly and overcast but it disciplined itself into not full out raining. Pretty thankful for that. Paskenta is way back in the foothills of the Sacramento Valley before you get to the Mendocino National Forest and the Yolla Bolly Wilderness. You drive west out of Corning for 45 minutes to get there. It’s a little village tucked out of the away. Thomas Creek is running through the middle of the town bank full of run-off from the mountains farther up stream. The town itself is pretty much a collection of homes. That’s it. There’s a small convenience store that sells snacks and gas. Some people are trying to renovate the General Store and Pool Hall but they’re not quite there yet. They can’t sell food and I’m not sure but they might not even have their liquor license. But if someone can make it happen it’s a very picturesque old establishment. The bar is original and the dark knotty pine walls are crying out for trophy heads and mounted Billy Basses.
The Pioneer Days parade passes over Thomas Creek bridge on main street on it’s way to the park grounds where the horse activities are held. From the road you see chicken and goat pens in the well-kept back yards. It’s really a junior rodeo. They have trail trials for the kids, musical chairs a-horseback and various other fun games.
We sat in the truck for warmth where we had a ring side seat. That’s the way things are in the small out of the way places. No hustle and bustle. Just $2 admission including parking. Sausage and eggs with coffee for breakfast or BBQ tri-tip and chili for lunch, $4.50 flat.

Here They Come

Pioneer Days Royalty

It's Not a Parade without a Hawaiian Float

Peanuts on Horseback

4-H is Big Here

Rose Bowl Here We Come

A Family Event

A Peanut on a Peanut

Red Hair Black Horse

Great Old Truck Still Runs Great

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Quota for the Year

We went to the Red Bluff Round Up yesterday. It’s an old fashioned rodeo of epic proportions and super fun. At the end of the arena events they even have a Wild Horse Race that look suitably frightening. Personally I would be terrified to even be out there. I don’t know how brave or stupid these guys are. They’re not afraid of a little pain. What’s that? I laugh in the face of pain! What would keep me out of the competition wouldn’t be because I have to wrangle a 1,100 pound beast who doesn’t want to be wrangled or even that I might have to get on it after the saddle is placed and cinch tightened. Its getting stomped on by all the other wranglers and horses who don’t want to be ridden or handled before the whole she-bang starts. Before the shotgun blast that starts the melee it’s a melee unto itself with horses rearing and struggling and crazy wranglers trying to hold on. One guy was even dragged down the course with other wranglers holding on the head of the horse like earrings.
Anyway it’s fun and yesterday was beautiful weather and we had seats fairly close to the action with our backs to the sun so we could see. But the first thing we had to do was hunt up an Indian Taco truck. I’m glad they don’t post the calories. I probably couldn’t eat one if I knew. Ignorance is bliss in this case. We did find one and it didn’t take too much cajoling to get the guy to make our tacos on the spot. We’ll wait we said. In my book the fry bread has to be hot out of the fry cooker. Cold fry bread is simply inferior. Of course, then one must eat it immediately and when you do it’s the most yummy melt in the mouth experience on the planet. 

There are glops of refried beans, spiced hamburger, shredded ice berg lettuce, chopped tomatoes and dollops of sour cream. If that aint’ a recipe for yumminess I don’t know what is.
But it’s the fry bread that makes it. I have a special way to eat it. I want to have bites of crunchy edges before I make my way to the center. Other people pick it up folded and try to eat it that way. Those are the people who work on the premise if it doesn’t get all over the place if doesn’t belong in your face. Then there are the other people who start on one side and eat their way to the other. I think my way is best because the hot crunchy edges of the fry bread are the best part of the taco. Get a little of the topping on the edge as you pull it away. The center should be moist and fluffy. The surface should be light brown and crunchy. I’m getting hungry just thinking about it.
Then once you’re done remember the date because you won’t eat another one until the next Round Up. You have made your calories quota for the year.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

My Choice

“Wanderer, your footsteps are the road, and nothing more; wanderer, there is no road, the road is made by walking. By walking one makes the road, and upon glancing behind one sees the path that never will be trod again. Wanderer, there is no road -- Only wakes upon the sea.” - from Campos de Castilla by Antonio Machado

My Choice

In August of 2012 I left the corporate world behind. It wasn’t an easy decision. I love the people I was working with and had grown to think of them less as co-workers than as good friends who I happened to work with. But life had conspired to give me a way out and a good reason to make the choice. First I finally met my life’s partner. Someone who met me on every level, supported me, loved me. It didn’t matter that we were not young anymore. It only mattered that we were finally together and looking forward to being together as long as fate would let us. Then I had gotten as close to death’s door as a person can by accidentally contracting a disease which for me there was likely no cure. When I eventually passed through the most critical time it appeared we would only be able to control it. I read Carlos Casteneda’s book long ago, “A Yaqui Way of Knowledge”. Whether it be true or false the words “Let death be your ally” resounded in my mind. Yes, in this sense I could let death be my ally by letting it show me how precious life is and that it wasn’t forever. I decided, along with my partner, that no matter the consequence it was time to make a move.
So in August of 2012 we packed up kit, caboodle, dogs, cats, horses and chickens and moved to a remote ranch nestled along the eastern flanks of the Mendocino National Forest and began our new life. We weren’t silly about it. We planned it and had a job waiting when we got there. But the job was easy and even though paying very little it was paying something. The job allowed us to work on things we had always dreamed about but never had enough time to focus on.
Now we’ve been here 1 year and 7 months and I can safely say that while it’s had its challenges they haven’t been big challenges. I think the thing that has helped us is that we planned the move and had a spot to land. We also had carefully considered what type of situation would really fit us and we didn’t move until we had exactly that. That is to say, we engaged in a thought process and we had patience. We also picked something that was practical, not outlandish. Something that worked for our stage of life and fitness level. In addition to that we made sure that we had enough cushion - though not lavish - to carry us through in case we came upon unexpected expenditures.
It’s not that difficult to make a change but you have to be ready for it, committed to it, have no doubts or at least doubts that are not insurmountable and then have a plan. Then it’s simply a matter of working the plan and having patience to see it through. I could have done this years ago but not really because the basic ingredients were not there. People always do what they’d rather do than not do. It’s as simple as that. So if you’re beating yourself up about something please relax. You’ll do what you need to do when you need to do it. Just make sure whatever you’re doing right now supports you in achieving your goal. To know what your real goal is you’re going to have to stop the madness for a moment, quiet your mind and do some thinking. The universe is really there to support you. Just let it.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Until They're Done

The drought seems to be over. At least for our little ranch. It might even be a better summer than last. Now that we are into our second year here at the ranch we have history that can be compared. In 2012 it was wet all through fall into December but then we had a dry January into summer. In 2013 we had a fall into December but now we’re having a wet spring. We’re wondering if this means we will have more water to use this year. When we had the dry spring we had to start using water from our stock ponds and by the time summer rolled along we were already depleting supplies. This year we haven’t even touched the stock ponds. We’re still using water from the creek. The creek is a source that is constant as long as the water flows from the mountains. And it is. We couldn’t use creek water last year because it dried up. You just never know from one year to the next.
We’ll see. And whatever we see we’ll deal with. One way or the other. I was hoping this means that the reservoir will have lots more swim-ability than last year. Last year the water in the reservoir got so low that you could almost drive to the bottom of the original creek bad. The lay of the original land was exposed to the air for acres and acres. Cross your fingers for me. I really like swimming.
It would also be nice to have it stay green longer. What is it about green that is so healing and restful? When I was walking out to feed the horses this morning I looked down and saw this little grouping. A little family of brown guys poking up through the baby greens. 

I have no idea what they’re called but they looked so sweet to me all huddled together. Every time I see mushrooms I can’t help but recall the dancing mushrooms in that iconic Disney movie “Fantasia”. I’m forever scarred. The truth is mushrooms aren’t necessarily friendly. They can be quite poisonous so I’ll be leaving the little family group alone to live out their lifespan and do what they do until they’re done.