The first substantial rainstorm has finally arrived and I discover I need to pick up four new windshield wipers and at least a couple of tires. The oaks are still holding a third of their leaves, but the ginkgos and the maples have dropped the bulk of theirs. There is a soft blanket of orange, brown, and yellow leaves coating most of the property, and water is flowing down the itinerant creek that has been dry for more than a month.

I’m thankful for the rain — it cleans the air, refreshes the plants, and restores the aquifers that provide our drinking and irrigation water.

Unemployment suits me, I’m starting to get into the swing of determining my own schedule. I still have many anxious moments during which the multitude of possibilities overwhelms me. When scientists give a moderate dose of cocaine to lab mice, the mice behave as you might expect — they freak out and start running around a mile a minute. But when the same mice are given massive doses of cocaine, they slide into a catatonic state. The working theory is that the mice’s brains are being bombarded with so much sensory stimulation that the mice become incapable of action. Sometimes I feel like I imagine those mice might feel. Nevertheless, I’m thankful for unemployment, for self-determination, and for the opportunities that are being presented to me all the time. It’s nobody’s fault but my own that I’m not always prepared to take advantage of them all.

Three dogs is a lot of dogs. The puppy, Archibald, is a sweet and lovable lunatic. He is growing like a weed and entering a chewing phase. Shoes are going down right and left. Occasionally he urinates on the carpet, but not so often that it’s a real problem. Bill is still kicking, though the big old dog’s joints put him in some regular pain as he hoists his hundred-plus pound body off of the floor and carries himself about. Kiki is Kiki, constantly in your face, except when you want her to come, then she does whatever she wants.

I’m thankful for the dogs, they give me so much love and joy. The cats are pretty damn funny too.

Trish is off making ceramics. She gave a talk this morning to a horticulture class. The fire is burning in the wood stove — I want the house to be nice and warm when she gets back. We were engaged to be married just about this time, fourteen years ago. I can’t begin to express how grateful I am to Trish, for being my wife, for putting up with me. She brings so much beauty into our lives.

I don’t know how many years I’ve been writing this column — I think I started about seven years ago. I’m grateful for the opportunity to express my thoughts and share my opinions with you all, week after week. There’d be no reason to write this if you weren’t taking the time to read it — so thank you.


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.