We’ve had torrential rain for the last four days. It was utterly awesome. And not just because the rain was desperately needed in our drought, but because it gave me an excuse to make a fire every day and drink hot cider, the kind of wintery things I adore but don’t get to do that often (especially this year, with our bizarre 75°F winter).
Living in a place with year-round balmy weather sometimes gives me sun guilt. It might sound like an oh, boo-hoo type of thing to say, but it’s a real thing… like a reverse cabin fever. It happens when the days are so calm and clear, you’re guilted into spending all of your time outside instead of inside, vegging on the couch, when that’s all you actually feel like doing.
I love the rain. And one of the reasons I love the rain is because at some point during the day, when there’s a break in the clouds and we have a brief moment of stillness, I run out to the yard for a quick round of weeding.
It seems that as soon as the days start getting longer, the weeds start emerging en masse, appearing everywhere from the cracks in my patio to the bed of desert plants. They’ll even pop up from the mulch of shredded bark and the river stones that line my walkway. I usually leave them until the garden gets drenched, either from the hose or the heavens.
The record-setting drought in California has been big news lately — at least on the west coast, where it was recently announced that Central Valley farmers will get no water this year from the federal government, and a Gold Rush ghost town hidden underwater since 1955 has resurfaced at the bottom of Folsom Lake.
Most of our rivers depend on snowpack in the Sierra, and the lack of precip this winter not only hurts the state of agribusiness in the rest of the country, it also means no fishing, mediocre skiing, and maybe kayaking (if we’re lucky) in the spring. We might get a week or two of whitewater if we watch the river flows closely, compared to the four-month window we normally get in a good season, and it’ll be a toss-up whether one of our favorite rivers will be running at all this year.
Ever since I inked the deal on my first book, I’ve been turning my kitchen upside-down every week, cramming the fridge and stuffing the pantry silly with a superabundance of vegs and herbs. It goes without saying that I spend a lot of time breaking down all that food on my massive butcher block with an arsenal of knives à la Dexter.
I own a lot of knives, mostly German and Japanese blades from a cleaver to a santoku, but one of the recent standouts is a new knife I received from a company called New West KnifeWorks — and they’re based right here in the USA.
The five little things that made my week…
1. The smell of tomato leaves on my hands. Always makes me think of summer, even though June is still a ways away.
I have a confession: I’m a dollar store junkie. I especially love going to the dollar store to get my car camping fix. If you’ve ever wandered the aisles of your local 99¢ Only (or here in California, we have the absolutely fantastic Japanese 100-yen store called Daiso — which, silly as it sounds, is actually the $1.50 store once you convert the currency), you might be overwhelmed by all the cheap and practical car camping goods you can buy.
I always stock up on dish rags, scrubby sponges, plastic tablecloths, aluminum pans, aluminum foil, food containers, and zip-top bags on my dollar store sprees. I also replace utensils (especially grilling utensils) that get lost or left behind at campgrounds and cabins.
You know what else the dollar store is good for? Seed starting supplies.
While I always advocate repurposing and reusing what you already have around the house, sometimes you need to buy a few things to round out your collection, and the dollar store is a great way to get started with minimal expense. Anyone who says seed starting is an expensive endeavor should look beyond the traditional garden centers and nurseries, and even beyond the gardening aisle of their local dollar store.
Strange as it seems, the best seed starting supplies are actually found in the non-gardening aisles!
I have beautiful chickens… and I’m not just saying that because they’re my chickens. It wasn’t too long ago that they were just a pair of raggedy looking ladies with cowlicks and bald spots, suffering through their seasonal molts (albeit with dignity).
When I look at them now, with their full and fluffy new coats and bright combs again, I’m amazed at what those ladies went through to shed and regrow all their feathers in a relatively short period of time.
Have you ever wondered what actually happens during a molt? How and why they start, and when those pin feathers unfurl into beautiful plumes?