Weekend Travels

I found this post gathering digital dust in my drafts file, having composed it sometime last winter. Since this is the time of year I grumble about triple digit temperatures, it was refreshing to read the following:

This is the time of year I brag about Southern California weather in equal proportion to how much I complain about it in the summertime. January and February are the halcyon days of sunshine, cool temperatures, and green hills. Optimistic nectarine trees burst into blossom and wild flowers rush to spread their offspring before the scorching June sun withers them.

A Desert Delight nectarine tree, cultivated expressly for this climate, needs about 200 hours below 40 degrees Fahrenheit.

Mill Creek, once a perennial flow, now intermittently gurgles through rock-strewn channels carved by previous torrents, and lingers in clear pools to the delight of our thirsty dogs.

Friday, Sally was recovering from a bout of Covid and wanted to do something of low intensity, so we loaded bikes and dogs into our cars and drove to the upper wash trails. In the uphill direction, the dogs bound ahead, following their noses and giving happy but futile chase to birds that take flight. When the trail turns downhill, they run ahead until they hear the zzzzzzt of our coasting hubs on their tails and pull over to let us pass. The long-legged ones (Sadie and Bella, Sally’s dog) lope easily behind, while the chunkier Molly and Zena (also Sally’s dog) bring up the rear, ears flapping happily.

By Saturday, Sally was feeling stronger so we decided to hike up Morton Peak Trail again. This trail warrants repetition as it has many lovely attributes, despite there being no water. It affords several panoramic views of the valley below, and after climbing roughly four miles, the trail rounds the ridge to provide a breathtaking view of Mill Creek canyon.

The naked south-facing slope is part of the burn area of the wildfire that drove our friends from their home in 2020. Mt. San Bernardino, behind it, is also charred. The dark green in the center of the image is where the fire fighters were able to hold the fire at bay, protecting Loch Levin Christian Camp behind the fire break.
Judy, the dog whisperer, who also has treats in her pack.
Molly takes a break
Sadie at the end of the day

By the end of the day, we humans had traveled about 13 miles and the dogs probably twice that.

“Not a single one of us is safe.”

I read that the government is funding more IRS agents to ferret out tax evaders and more FBI agents to pursue miscreants of every stripe. Some folks are quaking in their boots over this news fearing “persecution” because Ted Cruz has warned that these law enforcement agents will render us vulnerable. Color me naive, but I’m not too concerned.

I’m pretty careful about filing my taxes and my CPA is a Mormon whom I trust is not going to advise me to cheat our government out of their due. (it’s that whole “render unto Caesar” thing.) So, I’m thinking that maybe those who are opposing this new spending law are not confident that their tax returns would bear scrutiny.

Similarly, I can’t visualize the occasion where the FBI would knock on my door with a warrant. And, if they did, the worst they would discover is that I’m a lousy housekeeper and my desk is a mess.

So, I can’t help but wonder about those who oppose supporting our tax collectors and law enforcement. Do they have something to worry about? If so, I advise them to clean house.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

I Suppose It Could Be Worse

The local multi-cultural market had a special on chicken drumsticks last week, 79 cents a pound. I don’t eat chicken because of my aversion to the way animals are raised for food in this part of the world, but my dogs aren’t as troubled by things like ethics; so, I bought two large packages of about six chicken legs each. I did think briefly about the half dozen chickens who would struggle with paraplegia, I wondered do they even make wheel chairs for chickens or do they have to use skateboards to navigate. Career options for chickens are already limited and I don’t know if hens could lay eggs if they couldn’t squat and cocks would certainly be at a disadvantage in the fighting arena. Knowing the brutality of the chicken pecking order, the future looked grim for the six poultry who lost their legs for my dogs’ benefit.

Photo by Sahand Babali on Unsplash

My freezers are stuffed full of this summer’s nectarines and surplus tomatoes, so I put the packages of drumsticks (sounds way cheerier than chicken legs) in the refrigerator section of the little fridge in my mum’s granny flat and promptly forgot about them. This morning, when looking for something in the little freezer, I got a whiff of something. A search of the fridge exposed the 79 cents per pound chicken legs (no doubt discounted to move the already aged product).

Summer’s bounty fills the freezer

Considering that dogs think cat scat a treat, I deemed the meat “not that bad” and dumped it into the crock pot. And figuring I might as well go all in, I added the usual organic, steel-cut oats ($3.89/lb), some California-grown Jasmine rice (less arsenic than Thai), generic carrots, celery, and potatoes (all dutifully scrubbed to remove any residual pesticides). By the time the crock pot reached simmering temperature, the stench was undeniable and I decided to consult the internet about just how invincible a dog’s digestive tract is. The consensus was NOT, if it smells off, it will make your dog sick. So, since the trash doesn’t get picked up for another three days, I dug a hole in the back yard and buried the whole mess.

My day didn’t get better: I developed a new floater which has me swatting at nonexistent gnats; I got to the checkout line at Trader Joe’s and realized I’d left my credit card at home, so I dutifully returned all of my purchases to the shelves; and upon arriving home, remembered that there’s such a thing as cash that is accepted as legal tender and I had a wad of it in my wallet.

Now, some might think senile dementia is creeping up on me, but I would counter that there are many days that I don’t remember a single similar episode ever happening to me.