Sunday, February 26, 2017


Crying, thinking we will never see our home, our beloved farm again,  we drove out our driveway.  But where to go?  What road should we take?  All of us have seen previous horror scenes of clogged freeways.  I would rather take my chances and stay home than spend hours stuck on the freeway.  
We decided we needed to get higher in elevation when the dam broke-that was our 1st priority.  Since we are originally from Nevada City, we knew that would be a good place to head to and our daughter lived in Auburn, another higher elevation place.  I didn't want to drive on the 2 main highways, highway 70 and highway 99 for very long.  So we quickly took highway 70 to the shortcut, Woodruff Road which cut over to Hwy 20 north/east.  
The call from our friend alerting us and then the evacuation notice from the Butte County Sheriff's Office gave us about a 15 minute head start of most people on the roads.  So there wasn't hardly any traffic.  Once we got above the Yuba River bridge, I knew we were safe for the moment of flooding and on to our daughter's house in Auburn.
We arrived at her house and she and the family would come home after being away on a trip shortly thereafter.  I sat on the couch just talking over and over the events, all the information we had seen and heard to that point. We stayed glued to the news.  As the hours passed, we saw the horrible traffic jams where people were stuck on the freeway for hours.  We heard about the horrible people looting; the interviews of the frightened people trying to get gas at gas stations that were running out of fuel.  I felt so sorry for my neighbors, our friends, our farming community, for all of us about what we could loose.
It seemed like semi-organized, frightened chaos.  I was so happy to have a safe, warm and loving family to be with. We waited to hear when/if the dam would break.
But you see, we got the information wrong about the dam breaking.  There was much, much miss-information circulating around for the next few days.  Yes, Butte County, Marsyville and Yuba City were put on immediate evacuation notice, but not for the dam to break exactly, (although there was always the possibility), but for the rising rivers and floodwaters that could happened due to the broken spillway and for the dirt filled emergency spillway that was overflowing and taking tons and tons of topsoil away from the main spillway.  
Pictures of the overflowing dam and broken spillways were seen all over California, all over the USA, even all over the world.
And here we sat, waiting to hear, waiting to know, along with 188,000 other frightened men, women and children.
We kept calling and texting people we knew making sure they were OK.  Inviting them to our daughter's house if they didn't have any place to go.
Three days later, it was said in a news conference that the mandatory evacuation order was lifted, but a compulsory evacuation is still in place due to the flood levels of all waterways.  Do we go, or don't we go home?  Were we supposed to be relieved?  Not really.  Nothing had really changed except the DWR and Emergency Services were trying to get a handle on: 1-reducing the amount of water in the dam; 2-filling in large crater holes created by the emergency spillway errosion; 3-tons of debris had been forced down to the bottom of the spillway from the break in the concrete spillway; 4-more rain coming in another storm bringing in more water to the dam and streams.
I would rather take my chances at home for the flooding rivers than a breaking dam!!!
We threw our little belongs, our dogs back into our van.  Kissed our loving grandkids, daughter and son in law; thanked them and we headed home not knowing what to expect.
How to get home?  What road to take?  We decided to take the same way home except our main Gridley road into our town, E. Gridley Road was closed-flooded.  That meant we would have to go through and around downtown Marysville.  If anyone has ever been through Marysville, you know what a horrible mess it is to get through it even on a good and normal day.  We call it the Bermuda Triangle.  Only two ways into that town and they go around a huge city lake with lots and lots of traffic lights.  It is the main way for trucks to use to get up and down Northern California too.
Amazingly, there were very few people on the roads.  The whole town had been evacuated and I think people were really reluctant to believe the re-population order and still didn't trust that the Oroville Dam wouldn't break.
When we got home, it was such a relief yet oh so strange.  The town was only about 5% populated, no businesses were open.  No restaurants, no grocery stores, nothing.  No traffic, nobody on the road.  It actually, was frightening even more.
After checking on my chickens and the house to make sure it had not be robbed, we decided to re-evaluate what we were going to do or not do.
Our new plan - re-pack the car with better long ranging thoughts this time.  More clothes, water, food, some beloved items; dog food; blankets, flashlights; important paperwork.  We kept the TV on all the time to hear any local news.  We kept our cell phones on our person at all times, including at night in case we received the evacuation order-again, in the middle of the night.
Yes, the night was the worst.  You see, another huge storm was coming with predicted lots of rain and lots of winds.  More troubles for the Oroville Dam and more troubles for homeowners.
Part Three-will this emergency ever end?

Friday, February 17, 2017


I haven't blogged for a while and wanted to tell you why.
A catastrophe in our community happened in the last week.  I would like to tell you about it as to how our farm has been affected. I decided to divide it into 3 parts.  We are still living it and hopefully the final phase will be Part 3.
Part One.
We have had lots of rain for about 5 days with heavy winds.  It was stressful because of the winds, several trees on our back farmland went down.  When the sun came out for a couple days, we had all our fruit trees pruned, by a wonderful man with a "man lift" for the first time ever, saving us time we felt we lost due to all the bad weather.
Then we had another 4+ days of wind and rain, so unusual for our area.  Frank and I didn't think much about it, other than the normal farming setbacks.  We had decided to start re-vamping the front living room since we were forced to be inside.
During this time, I had tried to start walking in the mornings and hooked up with a friend downtown to keep motivated.  We walked 2 days starting our new commitment to try and walk even if it was raining. Sunday was going to be just like any other day on our farm.
Sunday, February 12, 2017 I had a customer stop by the house early to pick up an early Valentine's Day arrangement.  My kitchen area was covered with flowers and necessary items to make a number of pre-ordered Valentine's Day flowers to be made and delivered on Tuesday.
It was a lovely warm day so I contacted my friend about walking early in the am.  She texted back that she and her family had left the area due to the possibility of flooding.  What!!!!  We live near the Feather River so I thought she meant she was worried about the Feather River flooding and was over-reacting.
I mentioned this to Frank, but we both seemed unconcerned and went out to the orchard to start chipping all the pruned limbs that were on the ground.  We worked late morning to early afternoon chipping and came into the house to have a late lunch.
Frank went to the local Mac's Market hardware store to pick something up he needed.

When he returned, he said:  "We need to evacuate!!"  The dam is getting ready to break.  "We need to evacuate and have 30 minutes to grab what we need and leave for high ground."
I had signed up previously for emergency notices on my cell phone and just then, I received the notice to evacuate.  Frank had been talking to people at the hardware store and they had received a call from a friend who worked on the dam and he was notifying as many people as he could to leave.  Minutes later the Dept. of Water Resources and Butte County Sheriff's Office called for the immediate evacuation to Oroville, Biggs, Gridley and later included Marysville to evacuate with surrounding low lying areas such as Yuba City to evacuation at your discretion.  
What do you decide to do if you have a 30 minute notice to leave your home, your farm, your life? What do you decide to take?  
I can tell you, our minds were not functioning.  We were in shock. We did not have any emergency plan. I kept saying over and over out load: Oh My God!!  Oh My God! The Dam is Breaking???? The Dam is Breaking???  The dogs knew something was wrong, every direction I took, and I was running around, basically doing nothing, they were in my way.
I can tell you what I did take:  A bag with some pants, tops, a jacket, a pair of shoes. Tooth brush, brush, my eye meds, Advil, Vick's (???), my rings, my purse, my phone and cord; my tablet without the cord.  
What I forgot was:  no under garments; no cords; no pajamas; no sweater; no blankets; no towels or face cloths; nothing of value; nothing sentimental.; nothing I cherished.
What I did do before leaving: I let all the chicken out, I figured they could at least get up in the trees.  I got the dog's leashes.  We turned a few lights on (were worried about looting). Frank said he would lock the doors, he locked his shop and packed his cloths and got his personal items together such as medications, glasses, etc. We texted a few local friends that we thought did not use social media or cell phones. We texted our daughter who was in returning from a weekend in the Bay Area.
What we didn't do:  Left the front door open.  Left about 5 windows open. Frank left the cord to his computer and cell phone. We left the keys in the ignition of truck.  The garage that has farm equipment was left open. Forgot to bring any food, water or dog food. No personal paperwork, no credit cards,  Left my Day Planner with all contact information (yes I still use them even though I use my phone, it has all addresses). We didn't check the heater to see if still on.  We wondered if we should have shut off the main electrical and gas lines.
With leaving, a last look at our house and farm thinking it may be the last we ever see it as it was that day.  Crying and scared, we loaded the dogs, the few items we took and drove out the gate thinking life will never be the same for our little town of Gridley with the Oroville Dam ready to break.
200,000 people having been told to leave immediately, where do you go?  What road do you take?  Do you have fuel in your car?
Part Two will be: Heading out of Town.

Friday, February 3, 2017


I love starting new crocheting or knitting projects. But I hate wasting yarn.  I feel guilty if I started a new project when I haven't finished old ones; and then go purchase new yarns.  Guess it was the training I got when I was young-we always had to finish our "chores" like cleaning the bathrooms, cleaning our rooms; finishing our homework, before we could go out and play.
I love to "go play" at craft and yarn stores and it is worse now that I am an avid smart phone user and get these text hits with extra sales percentage notices from Jo-Ann's.  Gives me added excuse to save money when I shop for yarn I don't actually need.
Well this latest crocheting and knitting projects are perfect to get rid of any color and any weight/texture of yarn you might have.  I am making scrap yarn dog beds.  They are simple, no patterns, no rules, great mindless knitting or crocheting, being creative and making fun cat or dog beds while using up tiny scraps to large amounts of yarn that have been sitting stored away for a very long time.
Here is how it works.  You take any and all yarn you want to get rid of or use up and make 2 piles.  We all have them, hard for me to just throw away any amount of left over yarns from other projects. One pile with light colored yarns, one pile with dark colors.  You decide which pile you want to put any multi colored yarns you have, or which pile the shades of colors that actually are so bright, they could be considered dark or light.  It won't matter. Even if the weight or size yarn is thin to large, you are going to be knitting or crocheting with double strands, one light, one dark.
Even if you have a fairly short/small amount of one shade, it doesn't matter, the more colors, the better it looks.
I put the lights and darks in separate plastic bags and worked out of the bags until the yarn ran out, tied a new color and kept on going.
The measurements and stitch numbers depend on the size.  You don't have to make a dog bed, you can make an afghan too, using the same process.  You measure how long do you want the crocheted or knitted item to be.  I already had a dog bed pad.  So I measured the pad/cushion.  It was 40" x 26".  
I took one strand of the light yarn and one strand of a dark yarn and started casting on (knitting) or chaining (crocheting) until I had the longest length and added 3 more stitches; skipped the closest stitch to my needle and half double crocheted  back all across those cast on stitches until I got back to the beginning. When I came to the end, I chained one, turned my work and went all the  back across again.  I actually had 110 single crochets for the one bed.  
You can stop at this time to see how it compares to the dog pad you have or use a measuring tape.  These stitches will be the same amount all the way, back and forth until you have your width-(in my case it was 26" actually x 2).  It needs to be on both sides of the bed, so you have to crochet twice the size so you can fold the blanket you finish in half and stitch up 2 sides; slip your existing dog bed inside and then stitch the 3rd side closed.
On one bed, I made tassel ties on the last remaining opening so after I slipped in the bed; I just tied it closed with 4 ties.
Once you get going, it is a matter of just to continue crocheting.  But the best look is to keep starting more yarns, more colors.  So say for instance, you have a full skein of pink and a full skein of brown and you keep going back and forth and back and forth.  You will have a solid block of those particular colors.  I wanted more of a Bohemian look.  

Once you get going, it is a matter of just to continue crocheting.  But the best look is to keep attaching more yarns, more colors.  Periodically, I would cut either the light or the dark color and add a different dark/light color and it would change the whole look.  
 When finished, it almost looks like the colors are all woven together and meant to be the varigated colors.
If you have wools you are using up, you will have to hand wash the final project, such as the dog bed.  I didn't use any wools for the dog beds, but I did use wools for the scrap yarn throw I made for the couch. I figured I wouldn't be wishing the throw as much as I will the dog beds.
If you are making the throw, on mine, I did a single crochet all around the 4 finished edges to make a nice edging.  You don't need to do that, you can just get to one end when it is the size you want and knot it.  Weave in all your loose pieces for all those tieing on the new yarns.  You are done. See below, this dog bed has the single crochet trim which I happened to have a longer piece left over of the aqua so the trimming around was all one color.  Annie, by dog  doesn't care though. Just her, the bed and her toy. A happy dog.
The yarns I thought I wouldn't ever end up using, worked perfectly.  I was making some pumpkin bunting swags last year and bought too much orange yarn.  I was reluctant to use it even on the dog bed, but finally I got the nerve and just knotted it on, on my "light" strand and ended up using it all up.  (See the round pillow photo, you will see all the orange yarns) I also had a lot of this baby pink yarn which I thought would look too light with my "dark" strand.  I again, just went for it, when my light yarn ran out, I knotted on the pink yarn with whatever dark yarn strand I was crocheting it together and it was amazing how it all blends.
It was really funny, on the first dog bed, after I stitched up the 3 sides and put down the new crocheted yarn bed for the dogs, they immediately went for it and it really seemed to me they were sleeping on that one more than the other bed.  So I still had a huge stash left, off I went to make another one.  They love them!!!
And the scrap yarn throw on the couch is the one that is mostly used instead of the beautiful knitted cable stitch white one.
I still have some scraps left, enough to make one more project, this next one is going to be a pillow.  This one is going to be round as my pillow form is round.  I will make 2 of them and stitch them together all around to close them up with one small section using yarn ties. Nothing big deal or complicated.  See how bright this aqua color is?  It doesn't look that bright with the 2nd color. The center of the circle, it has that orange yarn mixed in with that pink/blue varigated yarn, it all works together.
I hope you try out this Bohemian look for a dog or cat bed; or make yourself a afghan throw for the trailer, couch, cabin.  My conscience is almost cleared enough to take advantage of Jo Ann's latest sale!!!  Show me your project if you decide to make one of these and don't hesitate to email/comment me if you have any questions.  I am going to attach a link for you to a good YouTube tutorial by Jayda InStitches-I watched to get myself started when I first decided to use up all my yarn and to make these dog beds.
Have fun!!