Sunshine to rain

When we moved from Yuma to Sacramento, dad pulled that 14 foot Terry trailer that he had bought in Yuma, for our vacation trips to San Diego. We stayed in the trailer for a while, while the folks looked for a house. I remember one of the places we looked at, was on Winding Way, at that time was almost countryside, and us kids wanted that place so bad, but dad chose to live closer to the base, because he flew the early warning, radar planes, and was on 24 hr. call, it seemed like all my life. That place turned out to be 3641 Lankershim Way, North Highlands. I went to Larchmont middle school, and Mr. Rich taught 6th grade. After I finished sixth grade, I had a long summer ahead, and the Sacramento Bee was looking for paper carriers. I signed up for a route, and I started with about thirty papers. The time the plane crashed behind the house, there was a lot of open fields behind our house, where construction had begun, immediately behind our house, and as they were finished, and people moved into them, I sold subscriptions to the "Bee", and added new customers to my route, and some other routes. I sold so many subscriptions, that I won a belt buckle on several occasions, and on one occasion, I won a trip to Santa Cruz, with two nights in the hotel, and two days on the boardwalk, where I had a total blast for two days, My route got bigger and bigger, until I was carrying two hundred fifty papers, so many, that on Sunday, when the paper was huge, I would have to make four trips with my saddlebags full, and my handlebar bag so stuffed, it was hard to steer my bike. When my bike finally broke in half, one day, instead of getting a new bike, dad made me give up the route. He bought me a new English Racer, with three speeds, and a shifter.

The rain took some getting used to, and before the housing boom started, there was an open field behind the house, and one place, really close to the house, there was a huge puddle that formed in a large low area, and when we got enough rain, that puddle became a lake, to a twelve year old boy. I remember getting an old pallet, and adding enough wood to it, until it floated. I pushed myself around that puddle, and instantly I became the "Huck Finn" of North Highlands. This kept me from boredom, until dad brought home a balsa wood model airplane for me to assemble. When I finally got it together, dad brought home a .049 Baby Bee, from Cox engines, and a big battery, and some funky smelling gas, two pieces of string and a stick, and I was flying my little plane in circles in my back yard. I quickly became addicted, and with the help of money from my paper route, I soon had several planes, and several engines, and I began trading things with my friends.

I don't remember ever not having something to do. I look at the kids now, and they have everything we had, in the way of sports, but they have so much more now, with the technology available, and all I ever hear is how there's nothing to do. We played sports, had chores, had pet rabbits, and my mom planted a garden in the back yard, and there was corn, and tomatoes, and I remember these colorful gourds that grew, and I remember a time my parents wanted to take a trip, and I was to stay with Lyons, and the first day there, I was rasseling with Craig, and I never knew when enough was enough, and I made him cry, and I felt so bad that I walked home, with the thought that I could survive 'till the folks returned, on vegetables from the garden. I was discovering how crappy raw corn tasted, when George Lyon showed up to take me back. He was such a genuinely fine person, he easily made me feel better, and I was glad to go.

We lived in that house the whole time we were here, and the first summer ended and all of a sudden I am in junior high school. I have a locker, and a home room teacher, and I have to go to different classrooms, a whole new experience, and one of my dad's fellow officers, has a daughter, and we spend time at the officers club swimming pool, and go to school together, and I am having my first real crush. I can't remember what Cheryl Mancuso looked like, but I remember that, to my taste, she was beautiful. Her older sister, Patricia, was our sitter (that's how I met Cheryl) and dad flew 121s with her dad, Captain Phillip Mancuso.

I remember we hadn't been here long, and it was nasty and rainy, and we were all in the house, having bible study. The planes landing at McClellan everyday, flew over the house often enough that we knew, pretty much what was going on, but on this particular day, this plane, with one engine smoking, and two more dying as he flew over the house, so low, we could see faces in the windows of the plane. We all ran out the back door, and the plane,(a 121), banked to the left, and as he turned, he disappeared from our sight. A short time later, there was a flash, and a cloud of smoke, and it took the sound, forever to get there, but when it did, it rattled the windows in the house. Dad was at work, and scheduled to fly that day, so we all thought that dad had just been killed. We waited an agonizingly long time to get the news, (the military is notorious for that), that everybody got off safely, with only one back injury that wasn't even caused by the crash.

A little growin' up

High school hits a sheltered child with a giant fist. I have two lock combinations to remember, 'cause I have gym class, and I am responsible for shoes, socks, jock, and shorts, and a clean t shirt to wear every day, and I have to get naked, and shower with a bunch of rowdy boys. I quickly discover that I am uncoordinated, and essentially, non athletic. Don Julio Junior High has a football stadium, complete with a bowl. It was about a quarter of a mile around the "bowl" and our coach, lacking a lot of imagination, had us run a lot of laps around the football field, and I am always last and constantly getting hollered at, my coach called me "Pete" and the nickname stuck, and I have never shaken it.

A major setback

I am really busy now. I have chores and pets, and sports and airplanes, and now I have schoolwork, and girls, and piano lessons,(yes I still take lessons, and will continue until senior high), and a paper route that is growing every day. Somehow I survive, and mercifully, summer comes again, and I get a break from schoolwork, but it doesn't last and I am suddenly an eighth grader. I can't remember what caused my world to collapse, but I think dad sold the house, because we moved to base housing,(Iriquois court, can't remember number), and I am yanked out of junior high, and returned to elementary school,(8th grade), and I remember having horrible behavioral problems, and fights at school, and a feeling of complete humiliation. this seems to last forever, but dad gets orders to go to Newfoundland, so we are swept away again. Just as well 'cause this kid named Randy McFarland stole Cheryl’s heart, and I was totally crushed. I couldn't wait to get out of California.

The trip to Newfoundland was an adventure in itself, as we drove across the United States, in order to pick up a new car, which dad had picked out, and found that if he picked it up in Detroit, he could save a ton of money, so the movers came and got our stuff, and we took off in our old car,(minus trailer, which was sold) and began a new adventure.

Newfoundland:We jump from 1960 to 1979

This part of the story needs its own chapter. First read ( ) from 1960-1962

then read ( )…………….1962-1979

Bought the farm-1979

In 1979, Dad bought six acres in Sacramento, and he paid cash, $120,000, the proceeds from selling the 15 acre raspberry farm in Snohomish, Washington. Not long after they moved there, I was planning a trip to take Pam's niece, Wanda, back to Washington, after a nice visit. We took hiway 5 north, and dropped Todd and Scott off at the grandparents new "ammond" farm in Sacramento. What's an ammond? you ask. When they are in the tree, they are almonds, but you gotta' knock the "L" out of them to get them out of the tree.

Over the next ten years, we visited the folks often, and they always had some type of R.V., so they visited me a lot too. They would pull their trailer into whatever town I happened to be in, at the time, and stay until we got tired of each other. I moved from Poway, to Lancaster, and while I was at Lockheed, Pam dropped the bomb. She asked me for a divorce, which I granted, and the folks came to Lancaster, packed up me and the kids, and brought us to Sacramento to recover. I was a basket case, and I resented everyone, and everything. Instead of taking a look at myself, I blamed all my problems on others. To quell my anger, we asked neighbor, Joe Pujols, if we could borrow his concrete mixer, and I poured the R.V. slab that sits next to the driveway. I told the folks that I would like to pour a driveway for them, also. Dad and I went shopping around, and we found was called a "one sack mixer", which meant that you could dump in a sack of cement, and add two buckets of sand, and three buckets of gravel. Two of these would pour a six by six slab, which was what I recommended to prevent cracking. I sketched a rough plan, and proceeded to pour a driveway, and a circle (octagon), and dad was so happy, he refused to take another payment for the Mazda, which he bought for me, when Pam left.

While here, I took a temp. job with Walden Fabrication. It was right after Christmas, in 1985, and I took the job as a "draftsman/detailer". Shortly after the New Year, the space shuttle Challenger crashed. I was sitting at my drafting table, drawing plans for the water pumping station in Walnut grove. We were listening to the radio, probably "The Eagle, 96.9" when the news broke over the radio that the Challenger broke apart, on takeoff, and broke up in the atmosphere, and fell back to earth. We were all stunned, as the shuttle missions had never suffered any setbacks, and was routine, business as usual. It took a long time before there was anything else in the news, besides that.

challenger  challenger1  challenger3

                          challenger2   challenger crew

Second Chance

I don't last very long when I work for screamers, or angry men. The best thing I can do is try to work by myself. Then I don't have problems getting along. I started taking jobs pouring and finishing concrete. Just about the time my folks were sorry for asking me back, Lockheed called me back to work, and I moved back to Palmdale to live in a roach infested apartment owned by Duane's brother, Jess. (Cousin, uncle, I really don't remember.)

Back to work. Lockheed fizzles out.

I take several jobs, some aircraft, some not. ( )



Home at Last, Time to Retire!

After all my moving around, I finally return to Sacramento, and I have lost my father, and my mother has remarried. Then, suddenly, mom passes, and now I am really alone.

We were living in Dale's house, and we got a foster dog, Roxie. Dan's Springer immediately impregnates her, and soon we have puppies. We managed to give them all away, but we got back the biggest, loudest, different from all the rest because he was white, and resembled his father. I really didn't want two dogs, but this was the puppy that really loved me, and he was always wanting to sit in my lap.

My Best Friend
Dad's pics by Todd 743


Scooper turned out to be the best dog I've ever had, and we had eleven wonderful years together, as I learned how to truly love a dog.

 I have exhausted every possibility to be gainfully employed. I worked at a couple temp jobs, one with workload, and one with volt. The workload job I really enjoyed. I was the maintenance man at the Alternative Baking Company. I made my own hours, and I got to eat some of the best cookies on the planet. When my 90 days were up, they asked me to become a regular employee, and I accepted. That's when things went sour. I no longer had the freedom to make my hours, and I had to drop what I was doing at break time, and lunch. There is a lot of times that that is very difficult, and wastes valuable time, setting up, and tearing down. I had major differences with Tim, the plant manager, and he was becoming concerned that I was taking too much upon myself. After building a guide to cut the "Hula Nut" which was a square cookie, and fixing the labeling machine, and buying machinery to make our own labeling accessories, an enormous savings (one labeling foot cost about $60. I can make them for $5). The last straw was when the owner refused to give un-saleable cookies to "Loaves and Fishes", a homeless shelter, and instead, threw them in the trash. That was it for me. I, at the time was so poor, that the waste deeply disturbed me. I presented impossible demands, and made them non-negotiable, with a two week grace for the demands to be met. Tim took advantage, and asked me to build another "Hula Nut guide", and 50 basket dollies before I left. I took part of my pay in swamp cooler, which I am enjoying to this day.

This was the time that my dog had to be left behind, and he was forever getting out. I really didn't know what to do. There was a beautiful, black lab, running the streets at the cookie factory, and every time the girls opened the shipping doors, the dog would run into the building. I finally lured him to my truck (the blue pickup), and took him home with me. I was apprehensive, and I waited a long while to see that they would get along. They hit it off, really well, and I felt better about leaving "Scooper" behind.

It wasn't long before "Duke" found a way out of the yard, and he would lay outside the gate, whining, trying to entice "Scooper" to escape also. I spent quite a few months driving the streets looking for the dogs. They loved the pond on Poker Lane, and there were ducks to chase, and cattle to harass. One day we came home from looking for the dogs, and Scooper was laying by the gate, whining. It was obvious he had been hit by a car. Duke was nowhere to be seen. We got Scooper in the house, and on the couch, where he lay and cried. I didn't know how bad he was hurt, and I had no money for the vet, and Denise and I went and sat in the car with a twelve pack, and waited for him to die. When we went in the house to see, He has finally quit crying, and was trying to wag his tail. I took several months before He was out of the woods, and I could see that he would always have pain from that injury. We found Duke on the road, across from the water tank. Someone had hit both dogs, and Scooper got away, but someone pulled Duke's body up on the sidewalk. I was in really poor health, at the time, and I didn't feel able to bring him home, and dig an enormous grave, so we called animal control, and they came and they disposed of the body. I would like to say that Duke was a really good dog, and we thoroughly enjoyed the times he gave us, short as they were.

Denise's mom was here, and we worked together at Workload. They had several little jobs for us, in and around Hewlett Packard company. When that fizzled out, I took a temp job with Volt, in a returns plant, first as a fork lift operator, then as a returns technician. Electronic devices, on warranty, came into the plant, and we dispositioned each item. Security was a major pain, and no matter how hard I tried, I would set off the metal detector. I finally found some metal clips that the shoe strap passed through. I removed those, and finally enjoyed several days of passing through without removing my shoes.

We were all drinking heavily, and Denise and her mom fought, and her mom was asked to leave.

With a collection agency hounding me about my septic tank, and my brother suing me, I realize the only way to get any peace was to declare bankruptcy.

I really don't feel like trying to get a regular job. With my drinking, my health waxes and wanes (mostly wanes), and I just don't fit in, anywhere. I look up a friend, Bob, and he, being the wheeler dealer he is, he kept me busy with maintenance work in the trailer park he lives in.

Denise and I are really poverty stricken, and it seems like we live day to day, never knowing where our next five or ten or twenty dollars is coming from. To make matters worse, we invite a homeless couple to live with us. We got along pretty well for six months, but we all drank so heavily that we were always fighting. That ended badly, and it seemed like our streak of poverty would never end.

I was getting medical attention through the county, having had an ear infection from '93 to '03, I discovered I was eligible for medical attention, when the eardrum finally ruptured we turned to other issues, and I got my blood pressure under control, and I was really trying hard to quit drinking, but I would go on a binge, and lose all the ground I had just gained. I had gotten Denise on welfare, earlier, and she was getting food stamps, and a small check, so we weren't completely without.

After visiting an old acquaintance, Lori Scarborough, she turned me on to Jesse Kaplin, one of the best social security attorneys, and I presented my case to him. He kept asking me for some medical proof, and I had very little that I could dig up, myself. He took as much information as I could provide, and he really surprised me by taking my case. I heard from him, only a couple times, in the next year, and I was thinking my case was hopeless. I appeared before a judge, and we left his chambers with my case undecided. I was certain I had lost, when several months later, in deep depression, I was informed that I had won my case, and I got a huge check, which I immediately disposed of, and more importantly, I have Medicare.

My health is poor, as I have been sporting a double hernia, huge on the left(inguinal), and it is such a relief to have that fixed. I also had a macular pucker, and I needed eye surgery to get that fixed. The surgery caused early onset cataracts, and I had a second surgery to correct that.


Today is August 11, 2011. I put Buddy down this morning at 10:00am

Buddy came to us at a time when we were having problems, and Denise was staying with her mom in Bakersfield. She had been staying in touch with Tom Pryor, in Oroville, and had arranged to take a puppy from Johnette. There were several puppies born, but met a tragic end beneath Johnette's cerebral palsy stricken feet. There were two left, and Denise agreed to take the male.

Tom brought him to the house, and he was such a tiny thing, he would choke himself on the doggie dish Denise had chosen for him. He was also sooooo cute, I couldn't say no.

He soon became attached to my foot, the same as Scooper did, from the day he was born. The only problem with being attached to my foot, was, one day he was under my foot, and I pinched him when I stood up, and he proceeded to mangle both my hands, snarling and ripping. I didn't think he would stop. We also learned that he protected food, and he mangled Denise a time or two over food, and a couple times when she had been drinking, he mangled her.

The last time he bit her on the foot about a week ago, and I knew he had to go, but I was waiting for the right opportunity, and it came this morning when he attacked my foot for no apparent reason. I really feel awful that I had to do that, but I look at it like this; He needed to be put down. If I took him to the pound, or even a vet, he would have to be restrained by strangers, and lethally injected. As it was, he was happy, one second, and gone the next.

It's friday morning, August 12, 7:30 a.m. I didn't sleep well last night, and I woke up really early this morning, and I got up and made coffee, opened the chicken house door, and filled the hummingbird feeder. I usually have a dog bouncing around my feet, but not today. I already miss Buddy awfully.

In loving memory
Denise's camera 003


He was so close to me, he mirrored my every move. If I lean forward in my chair, he would stand, and be on alert, anticipating my every move, and herding me, to some extent. His favorite thing was to go "bye bye", and he would jump on Denise until she took him out, and put him in the truck. When we went someplace, he usually wasn't allowed to get out, but he didn't seem to mind. He just loved to go for a ride. Most of the time when I would go outside, he would go with me, one step in front of me, and he would stop, and I would have to stop too. If I sat outside, he would lay at my feet. If it was possible, he would actually make contact with my foot. I learned to be really careful, because I stepped on him on two separate occasions. The first time, he was less than six months old, and still really tiny, and as usual he was right at my feet. I had started to doze off, and when I went to get up to go to bed, I pinched him really good. I still can't believe the fury he attacked with. He chewed my left hand, ripping the knuckle off my index finger. When I put my right hand down to stop him, He proceeded to mangle my right hand too. I was totally unable to use either hand for several days, and I told Denise that he was dangerous, and would have to be put down. The second time he bit me, he had a scrap of pizza crust, and he was defending it, and when I walked too close, he growled, and jumped up, and bit me above the belt, on my right side. As he was coming down, my reaction was to kick at him, and he bit me on my left ankle. Both bites broke the skin, but was nothing like the first attack.

I am not writing for the purpose of bashing anyone or anything, and I certainly won't bash the Oroville folks. Suffice to say, Buddy's first four months of life were hell, and it was imprinted on him that humans were bad. I loved that dog every day. He wasn't always wanting to be petted. Sometimes I would reach out and touch him, and he would get up and move out of reach. I'm not sure what that was, but I was always fearful. I stepped on him, another time, when he was a little older, and he went at me, but as soon as he realized it was me, he pulled back a little, and only broke the skin, giving me reason to think that there was hope.

Buddy grew, from 10 pounds, to 20 pounds, and, still being aggressive, we had him neutered. After that, he really grew fast, to 30 pounds, and he was a muscular dog with a big, hard head, almost like a pit bull, and he had a personality of his own.

If the phone would ring, Buddy knew that Mike was coming, or we were going to have visitors, and he would get excited, and stand on the alert, waiting. If we said the "Bye-bye" word, he would jump all over Denise.

We both grew to love Buddy, and when he did bite, and we knew he had to be destroyed, we loved him so much, we kept putting it off, and it became harder to think about, as time passed, but we knew it was inevitable.

My son would come around, often, and I was always worried that Buddy would hurt one of my grandchildren, but no matter how rough Logan was with Buddy, he was never too rough with Logan, and they played so well together, that before long, I wasn't worried anymore. People would come to the house, and I was always trying to stay between company, and Buddy. Injun Lauri and Anthony would come to visit, and they both stepped on Buddy hard enough to make him yelp, but he never bit anyone except for Denise and me. I thought if we were careful, he would get over it, and for a time, there was improvement, but every time Denise got careless with food, or the broom, Buddy would attack with a vengeance, and didn't want to stop.

Denise had her own problems with him. She was his keeper, and she fed and watered him. He bit her a couple times, food related, and a couple times, alcohol related. The way those two played, this was something you wouldn't expect. One of my greatest joys in life was to watch Denise play with Buddy, like a little girl. I could see that it was one of the greatest joys in Denise's life, too. I was so hoping that he would snap out of it, but, just about a week ago, Denise tried to feed him some hamburger. He was being difficult, and Denise took a piece out of his dish, and set it on the floor, close to him. I asked her for the broom, and when she went to carry it to me, Buddy attacked her foot, and bit her severely, several times, like he can't stop himself. So since that day, I had known that he had to go. I wish I could give hime to somebody, but I would be responsible if he ever hurt someone. I could take him to the pound. No, I couldn't. I could take him to the vet, but he hates the vet's office. No, this is something I have to man up, and take care of myself. So for a week, I agonized about what to do, when, yesterday morning, Buddy was hungry, and grumpy, and moping around because Denise was gone, and when I walked toward him to open the sliding glass door, he looked at me real funny, and I hesitated, and took a half step, and Buddy went for my foot. I stopped, and so did he, and he looked at me with his ears pulled back, and his tail drooped, and I knew that I could never trust him again. I'm sorry little Buddy. I'm really going to miss you. I already do.

I found this when Scooper passed, and although it's not as obvious in this situation, I feel it applies here, as well.


Treat me kindly, my beloved friend, for no heart in all the world is more grateful for kindness than the loving heart of me. Do not break my spirit with a stick, for although I should lick your hand between blows, your patience and understanding will quickly teach me the things you would have me learn. Speak to me often, for your voice is the worlds sweetest music, as you must know by the fierce wagging of my tail when your footsteps falls upon my waiting ear. Please take me inside when it is cold and wet, for I am a domesticated animal, no longer accustomed to bitter elements. I ask no greater glory than the privilege of sitting at your feet beside the hearth. Keep my pan filled with fresh water, for I cannot tell you when I suffer thirst. Feed me clean food that I may stay well, to romp and play and do your bidding, to walk by your side and stand ready, willing and able to protect you with my life, should your life be in danger. And, my friend, when I am very old, and I no longer enjoy good health, hearing and sight, do not make heroic efforts to keep me going. I am not having any fun. Please see that my trusting life is taken gently. I shall leave this earth knowing with the last breath I draw that my fate was always safest in your hands. Author Unknown

I can only hope I did the right thing!

Sat. Aug 13

For the second morning, I awake, and kick my feet over the edge of the bed. When I reach down to put on my socks, Buddy would always hear me, and he would jump on the bed, and lick my face. I would put my right arm around him, and scratch his throat with my left hand until he groaned with pleasure. I really missed that, and all the little things. I sat in my chair and had coffee, and I leaned back carefully, so as not to pinch Buddy, and opened the sliding glass door, and he wasn't there. I didn't realize that he was with me every second, and I took it for granted. I miss my dog so much.........

I have to have another dog!

The new babies

I got online and contacted the S.P.C.A., and we visited the feed stores, and the pet stores, looking for flyers for pups. We found several, and we came home and started calling around. One place we called said they had three puppies left, and we went to see them. They lived on Rio Vista, not too far from my old stomping grounds on Lankershim Way. They told us that they didn't know which dog was the father, but we saw the mother, a plain brown mutt, about Buddy's size, but short legged. They said she was kept in the back yard with their bigger dog. Denise suspected that was the father, but there was a black female, and the two we decided to take. They handed me the black female, first, and I handed her back and said, "Too hard to see in the dark". Then they handed in the two brindle pups, and we drove away with both of them. They wanted twenty five dollars each, but we only had eleven in cash, so rather than lose us, they accepted the eleven dollars, and we became the proud owners of two ten week old puppies.

The new babies 007

 The date was August 21, so in order to give them a birth-date, I calculated it to be June seventeenth, a few days before the anniversary of Scooper's passing, and right around the time we got Buddy. Now we need to be careful where we step, once again, and the babies are an absolute joy, and it makes missing Buddy a little less painful.

We have had our new dogs awhile, and they are so loving, and gentle. It’s about time!


The circumstances of our meeting are covered in another chapter, however, briefly, we met in Rosamond while I was working at G.E.. Jon and I went looking for a place to shoot pool, and we started at Sal's Town, where we had a drink, and asked the barkeep, where was a good place to shoot pool. He asked how rowdy we wanted to get, and we replied, "Not too rowdy", to which he replied, "Go to John's Place". Jon said, "He gets points for his name!" So, we met sisters, and Jon ended up with one, and I ended up with the other. That was the night I met Jerritt.

We didn't hook up right away, and I didn't see Denise again until late spring, when my regular housekeeper didn't show for a while, I went to her mother's place on 60th, and left my number. Denise got in touch, and she moved in her own room, and agreed to keep house for me, for fifty a week and room and board. Things progressed from there, and it wasn't long before I took her to Sacramento to meet my mom. Every one thought that Denise was out to take me for everything I had. That makes me smile, because I don't have anything to be taken from me, and, as I write this, in the late summer of 2011, we are well into our eighteenth year together. Thanks to Denise sticking by my side in the most horrible of circumstances, we have built something together, worth more than anything, anyone ever took from me.

I was suffering from really severe alcoholism, and, unable to perform my job, properly, I begged mom to let me live in Dale's house, and she reluctantly agreed. I didn't realize what a problem I would make for everyone that cared about me. I had a few odd jobs, one with Pizor Iron, and a robotics company, and I did poorly, because I was unable to stop drinking.

When mom fell ill, I did a quickie with "Bob" at R.C.H. Machine Shop, and mom passed away.

Denise wasn't really happy here and she got homesick a lot, so we were separated a lot at first. When we got our wreck of a mobile home delivered, we were living in my camper shell, and a tent, which we had pitched next to the pond, under the trees. Thank God for trees. It was July of '97 and we had string upon string of one hundred degree days.

Major Improvements

This chapter is intended to illustrate the significance of every tree, and flower, and cactus. Everything on this property was hard fought for, and there were several times I thought I would lose it.

Dale had left behind four sections of hog-wire, sixteen feet long, and while we lived in the house, we had a fenced in garden, with sunflowers, Denise's trademark. The house sold before harvest time, and we took the wire sections, but had to leave our tomatoes behind, and we immediately started a new garden, close to the only faucet on the property. Water was free for us, so I soaked the earth, and proceeded to dig the sod out of the square the sections formed. Not knowing for sure, where to stack the sod, I started a water ring around the only real tree on the property, the wild plum. I don't know how this tree survived all the years with no water. It must have roots, all the way to hell, which is how I would describe the entire property with the exception of the pond area. It was so dry. We set up sprinklers, and I salvaged a few strands of Bermuda grass, which I divided, and transplanted elsewhere, until I had a respectable lawn.

At this point, I hadn't decided what I was going to do with the property, but I thought it would be nice to have some trees, so we grabbed a shovel, and went on old Poker Lane, over by the railroad tracks, with my daddy's blue Ford pickup, and we dug up some wild bamboo, and some trees that I thought were walnuts. I later found out the name was "Lantis", and it's a good luck tree for the Chinese. It was good luck for us too, because it grew so fast, and in spite of being damaged by Rene jr. and Bubba, it quickly became the biggest shade tree on the property. In early spring, There were some trees, sprouted, just on the other side of the fence, still on my property, but on John Pibb's side. I dug them both up, thinking that they were oak trees, because of the shape of the leaf. They went into a coffee can, where they spent several years, due to my indecision. I had to be careful where I put them because the wreck of a trailer would someday be moved, I left a way out, but put them close enough so that they would provide shade when they got bigger. After a few years in the ground, it was apparent that they were mulberry trees, and they grew fast, and really cooled of the south end of the house.

There were other trees too. We got into S.M.U.D.'s tree program, and this lady named Fran came out and sprayed a few paint spots on the ground. This was where we were supposed to plant our trees. Denise had other ideas, and she planted a six foot Burr Oak just outside the bathroom window. I was not pleased, as I had planned to deck the whole place, and that tree prevented me from doing that. As it turns out, it is one of my favorite trees, and it couldn't have gotten a better location. From this, and other things, I let Denise have her way, as long as there was no danger. She planted an apple tree on top of the septic tank, and I knew that one would have to go, and I was keeping an eye on it, but Denise got drunk, and knocked the tree down, her own self. She went for several days without glasses, (spectacles), and I found them on the ground next to the broken off tree.

My cousin, Diana, got the two halves of the trailer together, and I got a wood stove from a neighbor that I was doing work for, and Denise and I spent a miserable winter together, with the smokestack piped out through the door on the windward side of the house. The smoke had to travel through two 90 degree pipes, directly into the wind, and we smelled of smoke until next February. We lived without power, and we watched the super-bowl on a battery T.V., and lit the house with old fashioned kerosene lamps, and candles, and it was freezing cold and we huddled together, and smoked our roll your owns, and drank our beer, and ate our beans. We had made a trip to Rosamond, and had brought back an ostrich egg from Ben's job. I drilled a hole in it, and blew the contents into a dish, and I remember holding a frying pan on the coals, through the open door of the wood stove, and we were hungry, and I remember how good scrambled ostrich egg tasted, and it was huge, and provided breakfast for several days.

We had a carpet cleaning job, and in order to maintain our hygiene, we drove to the truck stop several times a week, and showered before we went to work. We still always smelled of smoke and we were starving, and cold, and I decided to send Denise away until I could get power to the place.

I remember it was Valentines day when I drove her to the bus station, and I already missed her, and on the way home, I stopped and bought four, one and three quarter liter bottles of whiskey, and Scooper and I went home to drown my sorrows. My faithful dog was always beside my chair, looking at me and wondering what was the matter with me.

When I regained consciousness, several days later, I wished I could die, and I talked to my neighbor, Dan, the policeman, and he got me started going to A.A. in Roseville. A Troy Connors said he would help me, and ended up robbing me. There, I also met Hugh, a tech rep from Saudi, and Debbie Coons, the lady that gave me a pool cleaning job. The money was pretty good, and I had to take Scooper with me, after several attempts to restrain him at home, and I met Bob Snyder through Bruce, my mechanic from Winnie's. Diana had gotten a power pole, and I had a permit, and Dan, and John pibb erected my power pole, after Danny had dug the hole, and trenched for underground wiring. Bob came and put up the weather head and box, and called S.M.U.D. for power hookup. I got drunk, the day they came to hook me up. My power pole was twenty five feet out of the ground, and my weather head only went up ten feet. I knew they would give me a hassle, and I am dirty and tired of living with garden hoses through the window, and I am drunk and I don't give a fuck if I get power or not. They came, as advertised, and as I had guessed, they banged on the door. I didn't answer, and soon I couldn't hear anything outside. I lay on the bed and passed out, and when I woke up, there was power to the trailer, and a note from S.M.U.D., cursing me for not going up twenty feet with the weather head. I am overwhelmed, and I shed some tears, and got right to work getting the place in order, so that a woman could live there.

My neighbor, Hank, who has every reason to hate me, gave me a fireplace insert, and John and I lifted it into the house with his tractor. I was working at the cookie factory, and I made a deal with the owner, Mr. Steve Ruud, to install a fiberglass tub and shower in one of his rentals, in trade for my triple wall stovepipe. I am so lonely, I can't wait to call Denise and get her home.

When she comes, her mother comes with her, and we all live together happily ever after.

Shortly after that, Denise tries to hold a job. I did a couple little jobs for Bob, the Fiji Indian that owned Roseville market. She didn't last very long, because Bob is a screamer, and for the same reason that I did, she quit. She let him deduct twenty dollars for a purple plum tree in a gallon pot, big around as my thumb, and five feet tall. It probably wasn't worth that much, but now it's fifteen feet tall, and gives about fifty pounds of plums every year.

Dad's pics by Todd 634

Along side of the purple plum, which is planted in front of Denise's window, is a "Fran tree", a Mimosa, which I found next to Jimmy's shop in Rancho Cordova. I saw it sitting in a six inch pot, and the main taproot was growing out the side of the pot, and at least two feet into the ground. That was how much root was sticking out of the pot. I wasn't sure if it would live. I broke off so much root, and one main stem broke off, not to mention being nibbled by the goats. It came up all screwy, and I had to stake it, and form the branches to make it what it is. It got the name "Fran tree" because Fran had dug a few sprouts out of her yard, after I cut down a huge Mimosa in the corner, which was hanging over the fence in the neighbors yard. She gave the sprouts to us in pots, along with the desert palm in the front yard. We cared for the ones in pots as well as possible, but now we had a water bill, and we couldn't afford to keep things watered. We lost most of our lawn, and all of the Fran trees, except for one. I put it a little south of the river birch that I got from S.M.U.D., and I had to stake it and form it also, but it turned out to be a beautiful tree.

Our second or third Christmas tree grew huge, and gave us pine cones. We discovered how to harvest the seeds from them, and soon we had fifty baby pine trees. They went into pots, and when they got big enough, they got planted. Right now the one in the back yard is the biggest, but some of the ones in the orchard are doing well, too.

I planted one of the baby pine trees on Scoopers grave. It isn't doing very well, But I think it will survive. In the little box, also, are some succulents from Mamie, a dear friend from Bob's trailer park. We got a lot of things from her. Every time I would do a job for her, she would give us a cutting, or a plant in a pot, and The prickly pear from her rental is the most spectacular.

                                The Garden and orchard 025

The aloe vera around the wild plum came from John's yard. He let us dig up two plants from his field, and Denise transplanted them, and divided them until they surrounded the tree. In the spring, when the salmon colored blossoms are plentiful, it is a gorgeous sight to behold. Attracts hummingbirds, too.

                                 Dad's pics by Todd 639

In 2005, the property was up for sale for 440,000 dollars. The buyer provided a twenty five thousand dollar non-refundable deposit for the year 2005, and twenty five more for 2006, the final lump due in June of 2007. We had, with Bob's help, purchased a five acre parcel in Oroville, and all the trees we had been collecting over the years, and been keeping them alive in buckets, and pots and you name it. Just before the final lump was due, we heard that the deal fell through, and we got to keep the property, and the non-refundable deposits, and we started to plant our trees in Sacramento. Bob was a little disappointed that we couldn't take the place at Oroville, but satisfied that he had a safe investment.

Knowing that we are staying gives everything a new look. I have trees in buckets that I have planted from seeds. I have things that friends have given us, and with a new attitude, we begin to plant our trees on our property. Our Christmas trees from every year have been planted in the front yard along the driveway. Some are flooded every winter, and to add insult to injury, Little Bit, the goat, and her compadres ate the bark off them, so three trees died, and made a space for my maple trees that I planted from those little helicopter seeds. I have a nut tree, and a fig tree, and I decide to complete my orange orchard, all the way down to the house. The first order of business is to fence it off so that the goats can't get in there.

I start with the only trees I have. I have a clone off the fig that grew out from under the trailer,

My Orchard
Autumn of 2011 011

and a walnut I planted from seed (Nut).



Autumn of 2011 010





Then, singin' Lori gave me a red solo drinking cup, with two little  sprouts,

My Orchard
Autumn of 2011 012
Purple Plum and Golden Plum (from Lori)

one purple, and one green. I let them get fairly big, and I planted them the next row up. They quickly grew fifteen feet tall, and it is two distinct trees, one purple plum, and a green plum, which turns golden when ripe, and are sinfully sweet. They ripen in late August, as opposed to the purple one, which ripens in late spring, and early summer.

My neighbor, Joe Pujols gave two giant redwoods in buckets. I put them at the foot of both rows, then, little by little, we start filling in as we can afford. The truth is, we really can't afford, so we must sacrifice something every time we want a tree. The first was a nectarine which never does well because of leaf curl. Then, the next two are cherries. I bought a Bing cherry, and I was told I needed a pollinator. A black Tartarian was suggested, and I planted it next to the new field gate.

Once we were careless with the gate, and Little Bit got in and munched my black Tartarian. I found a replacement at Costco, and it is doing well, and gave us cherries this year, but the birds ate them.

Denise and I both got our cannabis recommendation, and we are also busy with our cannabis crop.

In the early spring of 2010, Denise gave a tweaker 20 bucks for a duck. Singin' Lori told her about it, and she rescued it, and brought it home. When I was in high school, my parents had Muscovy ducks, so I recognized the breed. Denise asked me what kind of a duck it was, and I told her,"muscovy", and at that moment, she became "Opie from Muscovy", God rest Merl Haggard!

In early 2011 Denise's mom moved here from Bakersfield, and she bought a trailer in the park, right across from the Wal Mart, and Denise spends a lot of her time with her mom. Life is good, and we are as happy as clams.

Then, in early August, we lost buddy, and we moped around the house for several days, and finally, Denise says, "Let's go buy a couple apple trees. At the time, I wasn't thinking about Buddy's memory. Denise had made me forget about that for a while, and now when I look at my two new apple trees, I think of Buddy.


If there really is a God, I have a bone to pick.

From the moment of my birth, someone has always been pointing out to me, the importance of believing and worshipping. I was instructed that the "Bible" was provided by God so that we mortals would know what was expected of us, and how we were to act.

My father's parents came from the "old country", Norway, and I'm not sure about my grandfather, but my grandmother was a devout Lutheran. My father was also a devout Lutheran, and I attended church with him, several times. My mother's mother was "in the truth", at least, that's how they say it. My mother was rebellious, and when she married my father, she was a smoker and a drinker. There came a time, in the early fifties, when my mother suddenly changed, and gave her life to Christ. She made plans to separate from my father, and when us children begged her, in tears, not to go, and from that moment on, my mother became a martyr for "the truth". Near the end of her life, she finally got what she always wanted. She married Richard Day, a man "in the truth", and he turned out to be not her cup of tea, and I watched her die in mental misery, caused by her hero, Richard Day.

My father died, clinging to his belief, and I always wondered if he really believed, or was he just being safe. His life was so much happier than my mom's, and everyone loved him, and said what a nice guy he was. My mother was always sad or angry (a family trait we are all smitten with), and all the neighbors did not like her. Not a very Christian characteristic, but I was brainwashed into thinking that "the truth" really was the only sure path to heaven.

The problem I had with the bible is that it is written by shepherds and fishermen that thought the earth was flat. They tell stories that are so far fetched, that they are scientific impossibilities. They talk about a jealous, angry God, quick to punish in ways we call torture. We were given free will, but not the freedom to exercise it.

I'll tell you what I think. Humans are a temporary infestation of the planet earth, and as soon as we really make a noticable, negative impact, the earth will, in the words of George Carlin, shake us off like a case of fleas. This may manifest it's self as, simply, becoming unsupportive of human life, however, with plagues like A.I.D.S., we may find a way to eliminate ourselves, without having to resort to a nuclear holocaust.

As far as a soul, it is arrogant to assume that humans have souls, and other living things don't. How absurd!!!   I have no memory of before I was born, and when I die, I believe I will cease to exist, except for the shell I leave behind.

I tell people that I believe in Karma. In it's simplest form, Karma is the thing that rewards us for our deeds. Do good deeds, Karma is kind. Do bad deeds, and bad things happen to you. This isn't really in effect. It couldn’t possibly be. There are too many deeds done that go unpunished. I tell people if they don't believe in Karma, then they just need to wait a while, because what comes around, eventually goes 'round again. My patience has paid off. I won't mention any names, but most of the people that I feel have done wrong to me, have had a taste of "Karma". There are still a few, though, and even though they haven't "ate shit yet", is simply because I haven't waited long enough.

Karma is a two edged sword, people. Karma has frowned upon me for every bad thing I ever did, and she let me know that she's not finished yet, so I continue to be careful in everything I do.

Religion is the biggest reason human beings don't get along. Everyone wants to think that they are right, and everyone else should be like them. We fight over these beliefs, and we kill each other, in the name of God. If there really is a God, would this be happening? If He can't make His presence and His wants known to everyone, then He has failed to cause me to believe. I just don’t have that kind of faith in anything.


All my Democratic friends told me to buy everything that my credit would allow, and die in debt. My republican friends gripe about Social Security, and think that individuals should set aside their own retirement, and provide for their own medical care. How funny is that? The few people I know that were able to do that were blessed with good fortune. They were in the right place at the right time, and they all think that that is a regular occurrence. They also think that everyone that carrys a "C" average is a lazy slacker. I won't dignify that stupidity with anything more than a "Bell" curve.

One thing is for sure. This country would not be in financial difficulties if everyone were to pay taxes. I was always patriotic enough that I didn't mind paying twenty percent of my income in taxes. A lot of the people I worked with were busy devising ways to avoid paying taxes, and the "well to do" folks I know were well off enough to create tax shelters. The politicians running the country right now (Tim Geitner) have all been caught cheating on their taxes, but nobody knows how to solve this money problem.

Early in life, I borrowed money several times, to have some things I couldn't afford. I struggled throughout my first marriage, trying to have things I couldn't pay cash for. Now I have experienced homelessness, and waiting for things has become a way of life. Come on America. It's not so tough. Why can't my politicians learn a little patience, and pay for things ahead of time like I had to do?

The problem is that the people with the skills to make money aren't politicians, and are only interested in making money for themselves. And, when is enough, enough? We have folks with so much money, it's sinful, and they are still trampling on their fellow man to make more.

Stingy...Selfish....Self centered. It will stop. Not in my lifetime, but it will stop. The people I know that are struggling like me, are willing to share any little "good fortune" that comes their way, and the people I know that are "well to do", never miss an opportunity to make a buck off the "have nots".

The price of beef went up, because the rancher's wells have dried up, and there is no water for the cattle. They are 'fracking the earth for natural gas, and they allow people to go on T.V. and claim that that is a good idea, even though it is destroying our water supplies. Innovative thinking, one advertiser called it. But it is the oil companies that want to do this, and even though alternative energy sources, (renewable), are available, the oil companies are so powerful that there is no stopping them. I suggested an alternative energy source in the 70s, and it was a logical thing, which was met by resistance by big oil, and is, only now, progressing at a snails pace, even though half the population thinks that combustion byproducts from fossil fuels is causing global warming. Here's the reason your politicians from all parties don't give a shit. By the time the shit really hits the fan, we will all be dead.(Big happy face, right here.)

Life in General

I must say that my life has been very satisfying. I have visited so many countries, and met so many people, and I have drawn the conclusion that, were it not for religion and politics, we are all enough alike, that, we would probably all get along pretty well.

I have had some serious bouts with my health, but have survived them all.

I have learned from my children. They both taught me that you can raise children without resorting to violence. I have learned to apply this to other instances, and if the rest of the world could "get it", we would see improved relations everywhere.

And for all the people that have so much advice on how I should be living, They should remember one thing. I am happy with my life, and most of them are not happy with their own life!


If you are looking for a lesson in all of this, there was, really, none intended. I started out with a long term goal, and technology changed that. I guess I should have had a back-up plan, but all in all, it’s still the good old days. Enjoy them!


I will continue to write, but in order to finish this, the first thing in my life I ever did finish, before my 66th birthday, I will close this on January 4, 2012.


                                                       For my Family