Feeling the power of the rubber chicken

“Your power animal is not the soaring eagle or the shrewd wolf or the brave bear. No, Taurus, it’s the rubber chicken.”

I’m serious. This was my horoscope from Rob Brezsney this week.

You can imagine the sound of my cackle as I read this aloud to friends at the pizza parlor. “With the rubber chicken as your guardian spirit, you might be inspired to commit random acts of goofiness and surrealism. And that would reduce tension in the people around you,” Brezsney continued.

I imagined what his voice might sound like — somewhat whimsical, with maybe a hint of an exotic accent. With the rubber chicken, “it could motivate you to play jokes and pull harmless pranks that influence everyone to take themselves less seriously,” he wrote. ”

Are you willing to risk losing your dignity if it helps make the general mood looser and more generous?” he asked rhetorically.

In fact, I am.

I didn’t need an astrologist to tell me what I already knew.

There are several things in life that make me extremely happy — a roll of quarters and an unoccupied pinball game, the ocean on a slightly blustery day, frozen bananas dipped in dark chocolate, the color purple, the smell of Daphne odora, and a road trip with the rubber chicken.

Someday I’ll write the quintessential “ode to the rubber chicken,” but first there are a few things about gardening that merit discussion.


Early garden

The verdict is not yet in, but I’m fairly certain lettuce is growing in my raised bed. Either that or a weed has sprouted in the exact place where I planted lettuce seed two weeks ago. Weed or sprout, I’m inspired to plant a second row before the weather changes to blistering hot.

If I remember correctly, I also planted a row of spinach and carrots.

Meanwhile, some time should probably be spent getting the lawn mower ready. I learned last year that the easiest way to muck up your mower engine is to run it on bad gas.

A good video by a big-box home improvement store can be found here: http://goo.gl/YpQd4. This shows how to drain the old gas, check the blades for sharpness, and shop for all sorts of lawn mower accessories at this particular store. While you’re at it, you can sharpen your garden shears.

Fanno Saw Works on Eighth Avenue is a local store with a long, solid reputation, and can sharpen a thing or two.

If you live in Paradise, now would be the time to beat your head against the barricade you have built to keep away the deer. If it holds firm, you’re good to garden.

Important magnolia question

For several weeks I’ve been walking around my neighborhood in awe of the star and saucer magnolia blooms. Note that I said “magnolia” and not tulip tree. I’ve made this mistake in print, and received reprimands from folks who know better.

Joe Connell, expert on almost everything plant-like, confirmed that we have star magnolia and saucer magnolias in Chico. These are the trees that are bare, and then suddenly “wake up” with waxy, big blossoms.

Chico also has many Southern magnolia trees, which are evergreen, with big, shiny leaves year-round, and white flowers in summer.

The pink blossoms we see now are the tulip magnolia or saucer magnolia, Joe said. I really love these trees — in other people’s yards. Once a good storm blows through, most of the blossoms are a sticky mess on the sidewalk.


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