Hearts have been turning up all over the place. In rocks…bones…I even turned over the frying pan the other day and the shape left on the heated underside, in steel against corroded ore, is that of a heart.

Maybe the hearts were heralding the coming of the old cat sleeping in my truck. We’ve named her Coffee because she is black and has a pretty nasty cough. I thought she was young because she’s very small, but the vet informed me the cat is just petite and geriatric. She is barely more than skin and bones, and her teeth are so badly worn down and infected that she can barely eat, but we’ve got Coffee on antibiotics and very soft food. We suspect she may have been abandoned by some of our neighbors who lost their home and had to move away; tough circumstances. I found the dying cat sitting on the side of the road and she didn’t even flinch when I approached. She had managed to kill a mole, but she had no way to eat it. She looked at me with desperation in her eyes, meowed, and was then wracked by a coughing fit. There was just no way I could let her die there on the side of the road. Coffee may not be long for this Earth, but at least she is resting peacefully, someplace where she can feel relatively safe.

Cycles of Suffering

I feel like there isn’t much better we can do in this world than to reduce the overall level of suffering. We can do that a couple of different ways: we can work to decrease the inevitable suffering that the harsh reality of existence requires by reducing our impact and removing ourselves from cycles of cruelty, and we can work actively to create things that make lives better, by making beauty and providing comfort.

Music to Soothe the Mad Soul

Speaking of making the world a better place, there is some exciting new music out there. This upcoming Saturday night the Michelin Embers are celebrating the release of their debut album, Talapachie, with a performance at the Maltese Taproom. The four-piece string band plays a unique style of music they call “Western Skiffle.” I’ve had a chance to listen to the album and it’s a real treat. I’m looking forward to the show.

News of a new album in the works from Chico’s own Aubrey Debauchery is generating a lot of excitement. Fans contributing to a crowd-funding campaign realized the goal in something like two minutes flat. I might be exaggerating, but not by much. While the initial funding goal has been met, the campaign is on-going and any additional money raised will go toward those unplanned expenses that inevitably arise in any creative production. Additionally, the funding campaign is, in the words of Ms. Debauchery, “the best way to pre-order the new album, plus get some extra stuff on the side.” I’ve been lucky enough to catch a couple of Debauchery’s recent performances. Her newer songs are top-notch, and her voice is as strong and beautiful as ever.


Goddamnit, the television just reminded me I still have to file our taxes. That’s alright though, it’s a lengthy Howard tradition to file way after April 15th. I’m ahead of the curve.

Bob Howard has been living, working, and writing in Northern Califonria since he moved to Chico in early 2000. In January 2011, he and his wife Trish relocated to Los Molinos, 30 minutes north of Chico, where they are the proud proprietors of the Double Happiness Farm. There they grow organic food, ornamental plants and trees, and generally work to enjoy the beauty of this great region.