I’ve been running myself ragged lately. Last night I was out late at Monstro’s Pizza, watching Neutralboy from Washington tear through a punchy set of straight-up, three-chord, punk-rock gems. This was an early stop on a tour that siphons the boys down into the Southwest and eventually into the city of sin, Las Vegas.

Over 13 years ago, Trish and I were married in Las Vegas at the Graceland Wedding Chapel in the old, grungy downtown portion of the city. That was a crazy weekend. We rented a big silver Buick sedan and drove from Chico to Reno and down US-95. About halfway through the state of Nevada we rented a room in a historic hotel in the old silver-mining town of Tonopah. A casino bigwig bought the hotel as a project, and when we were there it was in the process of a complete restoration. The dining room wasn’t quite ready for guests, but the tables were set with gleaming silverware and silk linens. The crystal sparkled in the room’s low lighting. Though it wasn’t as large, or quite as remote, frankly the place reminded me of something out of The Shining. It was a hell of a lot better than the other boarding option in Tonopah: a strip-mall motel with the front window entirely decorated with a collection of assorted clown dolls. If Trish hadn’t the good sense to veto me on that one, we might be presently living down in Jimbo’s desert basement sex dungeon.

Speaking of dungeons, we are making good progress on the Death or Glory underground pub. I know I tend to sound like a broken record, but this is my life these days—work, playing a little music, and digging a giant hole out of a berm on the property. It’s really much more interesting than it sounds.

The moon is getting fuller, and right now is just about the time the flocks of bats start to rise up from underneath the nearby train trestle. They emerge together, as a single unit, fly high into the evening sky, and then spread out to descend over the area. They’re big and plump this year, and in the habit of buzzing me when I’m out urinating under the oak trees.

Also under a portion of the oak trees there is a cluster of wild plums. They put off a full, yellow fruit, and are absolutely delicious. Kiki the dog has discovered them. It used to be that when we couldn’t locate her, she was off in the neighbor’s pasture pestering the cows—but now we check the plums, and 10 times out of 10, there she is.

I’m not sure I’m going to get things together enough to turn the plums into wine, so in the meantime we’ll pick and dry a batch, just to see how they turn out.

Well, this existing wine—a big bottle of white Livingston—is not going to drink itself, so until next week, take care of yourselves.

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.