Carrie's Corner
By: Carrie A. Blakley
 
At this point, just about everyone we know (including ourselves) has had some form of cold, or influenza. Out of curiosity, I took a look at the CDC's 'FluView' map, with the current update ending on the week of 1/6/18.  According to that map, Guam, Hawaii, U.S. Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico are the only areas that do NOT have wide spread cases of Influenza. Again, that's wide spread. All of those areas have either regional, or localized cases. So basically, we're not alone. Not by a long shot. In fact, we've got an entire nation of people who are dealing with the very same illnesses that we are. In fact, there have already been 42 deaths from the influenza virus, just in California alone, and all of those deaths were in people under the age of 65. Head officials from the California Public health department have said that one strain, Influenza A H3N2 is why this year's influenza 'season' is more severe. It's nickname is the 'hospitalizer', and for good reason.
 
I know that there are some of you out there who say that you never get sick, you're fine, you don't feel unwell, that the last time you got really sick was umpteen years ago...blah,blah,blah. Allow me to clarify things for you a bit. There are just under 200 different strands of the cold virus, and the influenza virus does this cool party trick where it likes to mutate every year. This year, it's taken it up a notch, as if it was in some sort of death metal mosh pit, after having one too many shots of orange juice. It's that bad. Do not take chances. This is not something you should even so much as think of going out in public with. It is not a joke. It's looking at you like you're fresh meat on a platter, just waiting to be devoured for dinner. And, believe me, the influenza virus is very good at this. Also, it is not biased in any way.
 
So, how to protect yourself? Well, the bad news is, you can't..at least not 100%. The good news, however, is that if you've had your flu shot it will give you a much better fighting chance of not getting the flu. However, if you're one of many people who can not take a flu shot (like me), then you can still protect yourself from at least getting incredibly ill from this. Stay warm. Plenty of sleep at night (this is when your body does the best job of healing itself up). Drink plenty of fluids, and eat a very well balanced diet, preferably one that does not include non-Rx drugs, or alcohol. Stay clear of people who are sick (unless you work in the medical industry - which makes that advise nearly impossible to follow). Cover your mouth when you sneeze, or cough - with your arm, not your hands! Wash your hands regularly throughout the day (I can't even believe I have to even say this, but I do). Aside from barricading yourselves into your homes until Spring, just do your best to keep yourself as healthy as possible. Be well, stay safe, use Kleenex and have a great...and healthy...week!


Carrie's Corner
By: Carrie A. Blakley
 
We all have that 1 'catch all' place in our homes. The cluttered drawer. The chair that serves as a mini-closet. The closet that serves as a mini-storage unit. The basement that is holding everything we don't want to use at the moment, but may need at some point in our lives. The holidays, perhaps, or for projects we'll take on at some point. I have that 1 kitchen drawer that holds everything that does not have a specific place in my kitchen. If you open that drawer, you will see knives, cheesecloth, pot holders, random kitchen gadgets, a few skewers and some rubber bands that came off of vegetable bundles. Can I get that drawer organized? Yes, I can, and I often do. The problem is that it never stays organized, and as a result, I have no choice but to get back in to that drawer and re-organize it. This process happens about 3 - 4 times a year, and it's a royal pain in the ass. So, I start asking myself a few questions.
 
First, what items in this drawer do I use the most often? Then I ask myself if there were any items in this drawer that I use maybe once, or twice, a year. Finally, I ask myself how stupid did I have to be to keep answering the first two questions, but never actually do anything about organizing this drawer, which always wound up with me asking myself the same questions every single time I open the drawer. Trust me, it takes a special type of mediocrity in order to obtain that level of consistency when organizing a single drawer. This is when I come to the bi-annual conclusion that it is absolutely acceptable to have at least 1 drawer full of nothing but random stuff. Truth is, none of our homes are display cases. We actually live in these homes. We have laundry that has to be washed. We have that drawer full of random stuff. We have boxes of decorations, and keep sakes, that sit around doing nothing more than collecting dust. In fact, I believe that is their sole purpose. To collect dust.
 
We all have those books we haven't read for decades, but can't bring ourselves to get rid of. We have that one shirt/skirt/dress/jacket that we've been hanging on to since the beginning of time itself...that we'll never wear again in our lives, but just can't seem to bring ourselves to get rid of. Guess what? Unless you're hoarding enough stuff to supply the local K-Mart for the next decades, that random stuff is perfectly normal. It's your stuff. Do what you want with it. Want to keep saving it? Fine. Want to organize it? Great! Want to have it collect dust? Wonderful. Want to display it somewhere in your home so that you can enjoy it? Fantastic. Remember, sometimes, it's perfectly all right to keep a few things here and there that are not organized. After all, we're only human. So, enjoy all of your random stuff, and have a great week!


Carrie's Corner
By: Carrie A. Blakley
 
Now available, at a Sheriff's Department near you....the DUI Nightmare Handbook! Does it sound kind of strange to you? It should. Is this some kind of a real book? Yep, it is. Is it really available for folks at the SO? Yes, it is. What I find sad is the fact that any law enforcement office, on any level, has the need to have these available to the public. Especially in this county. I mean come on people, really?! There's only about what, 2,800 of us in the entire county. To put this into perspective, we have less people in this entire county, than in 1 city block of Sacramento. Let that sink in a bit, then continue reading. DUI is serious stuff. Thus, my 'just a bit miffed that I still have to write about this' attitude. In a county of 2,800 people, and the SO has to have DUI Nightmare Handbooks available for the public. Again, really?!
 
OK, let's break it down. We all know that there is a huge difference between being a substance addict/abuser, and having '1 too many' on a rare occasion. Guess what? If you get into a vehicle, no matter if you had 1 too many drinks...or accidentally took 1 too many of your medication pills....it's a DUI. So, the most simple way of avoiding this is to NOT do it. Call for a ride. Stay at a friend's house, or with a family member - preferably one that's within walking distance of where you happen to be. Bring a DD (Designated Driver) with you. Give the keys to your vehicle to someone you trust. Make prior arrangements for someone to pick you up. There are many ways you can avoid a DUI. Trust me, none of our law enforcement officers want to pull you over, slap handcuffs on you and then have you riding in the back of their vehicles....just because you 'forgot' to be responsible. Besides, it's not worth all of that, especially for you.
 
So, IF you happen to get pulled over, then what? Well, there's the Roadside Sobriety test. If you happen to fail ANY of those tests, the officer can arrest you for a DUI...which is immediately followed by the handcuffs and joy ride from Hell. The arresting officer will then have your car towed, and impounded (if necessary), which you will be obligated to pay for. Then, there's the booking process, the jail process, the attorney process, court appearances, the DMV and the car insurance. All of this can start at a cost of about $500.00. So, that 1 $5.00 drink, could end up costing you a heck of a lot more than just that $5. Therefore, it's best to NEVER get behind the wheel of a vehicle under the influence of anything, ok? OK. Now then, get out there, have some fun, enjoy life and have a fantastic week! Be safe!


Carrie's Corner
By: Carrie A. Blakley
 
Brace yourselves, I'm going to bring up the 'g' word. That's right, gardening. Yes, I'm aware that it's hardly the type of weather anyone will be out in the garden tilling the soil, planting seeds and tending to the weeds. However, during the Winter months, gardeners have plenty to do, outside of getting themselves knee deep in soil, fertilizer and weed remnants. Many gardeners are already planning this year's crops. On top of that, they're tending to their gardening tools, making sure they are clean, and sharpened, for use during the up-coming gardening times. Other than those items, you'd probably think that there wasn't much else to do, and that this chores can be taken care of relatively quickly. Think again.
 
Sharpening the tines of a metal hand rake isn't as easy as running each tine through a knife sharpener a few times. They have to be hand sharpened. The same process applies to sharpening larger tools, such as hoes, shovel tips, spades and various blades gardeners use. Sharpening the tools can be very time consuming, especially if any rust has built up over the last season, as the rust must obviously be removed prior to cleaning and sharpening the bare metal. Then comes the task of preparing any compost materials, natural/organic foods and/or fertilizers, and finally, caring for, and tending to, what might be left in the garden through the Winter months. For example, I swear by all that is holy my chives and parsley could be slammed with an atomic fireball, and they'd still live. So, I still have to tend to them when it's cold outside, lest they grow into a mass of green knotting.
 
The good news is that all of these chores that us gardeners tend to during the colder months are taken care of over a span of just that...months. We're in no major rush to file down a spade, or grind up some egg shells, save coffee grounds, pile wood ash into bins...no hurry at all. We have months to tend to this. So, we relax, and wile away our hours planning our new gardens, our new compost and get new ideas for gardening techniques. So relax. Enjoy the colder months with a nice cup of hot tea, and keep warm by a nice fire. Have a great, and relaxing, week!


Carrie's Corner
By: Carrie A. Blakley
 
Fall backwards, and Spring forward, is the tell all phrase for Daylight Saving Time settings. Thus, on Sunday, March 11, we shall 'spring forward' by turning our clocks ahead by 1 hour. We also hear folks talk about 'losing', or 'gaining', an hour of sleep. Pro tip: You're getting the same amount of sleep. So, what is this Daylight Saving Time stuff all about, and why do we still observe it? Furthermore, who, specifically, can we blame for this DST nonsense?
 
This blame can be placed on the head of Englishman William Willett, who, in 1905, thought the United Kingdom should move its clocks forward by 80 minutes between April and October, so that more people could enjoy the plentiful sunlight. He went so far as to publish a brochure in 1907 titled, "The Waste Of Daylight". Unfortunately for Willett, he died in 1915, at the age of 58, without ever having seen his idea come to fruition. Benjamin Franklin is often the man who is credited with the DST idea, after he stated 'early to bed, and early to rise, makes a man health, wealthy and wise'. This was simply Franklin's way of stating his love for the natural sunlight, and, while on an envoy to Paris, noted that the French could save an enormous amount of money in candle purchases, if they simply rose slightly earlier in the day. Then, during WW1, Germany embraced DST to conserve electricity. Not to be outdone by the Germans, weeks later, the UK followed suit and introduced 'summer time'.
 
Contrary to popular belief, the DST in the United States was not supported, on any level, by the agriculture industry. Far from it. It was first implemented in the USA on 3/31/1918, as a wartime measure. The Sun, not the clock, dictated farmers' schedules, so the implementation of DST was actually disruptive, and highly opposed by the farming industries throughout the USA. With the onset of wide-spread electrical use for both heating, and cooling not to mention lighting (both indoors and out), DST is quickly becoming much of an unnecessary thing, and serves nothing more than to slightly frustrate the general populous. So, now you know where all this DST stuff came from. So, until further notice, on the 11th, we shall 'spring forward', by setting out clocks ahead 1 hour....and just deal with it. Again. Well, that's all from this desk for the week. Stay warm. Stay healthy. Stay safe, and have a great week everyone! 


Carrie's Corner
By: Carrie A. Blakley
 
With this 'zero waste' idea that's been going around the Internet lately (read that as 'something that's been taking place for the past 5+ years, that people are just now starting to pay closer attention to'), it made me stop and ask myself: "How much do I really recycle"? The answer is: Anything I possibly can. When I go to the local transfer station, people can see me piling through stuff left under the pavilion. Often, it's stuff that anyone in their right minds would throw out, or leave for someone else. I am that someone else, and yes, I'm not in my right mind (we all know this anyway, let's not pretend otherwise). We're all used to recycling out glass bottles, our electronics, our plastics, and our tires. At this point in this county, that's an almost involuntary action. But, what else do we really recycle? Do we really stop to consider what we can repurpose?
 
Cardboard boxes can be used for all sorts of things, the least of which is fire fodder. Plant starter pots don't have to be purchased. Just save up a few egg cartons, yogurt containers, and fruit cartons. Poke some drainage holes in the bottom of the solid plastic items, and you just made yourself a starter container. If the container is made of plastic, you can reuse the containers over and over. Just wash them out, and store them for the next round of seeds. Items like newspaper, and egg cartons, are biodegradable, so they can be planted directly into the ground, and will be broken down by nature. Egg shells can also be used to start growing seeds, but once the new plants are put into the ground (or, larger containers), don't throw the egg shells away. Grind them up and use them around your plants. Larger shell bits act like razors on the ground that slugs and snails will not cross - because the sharp shell edges cut them.
 
Got kids (not baby goats)? Start saving those yogurt, and fruit cup, containers. Why? Arts & Crafts. They're perfect size for holding anything small, or portion out anything in smaller portions (say, crayons, stickers..etc.). They also make for great small portion food scoops for smaller pets. Did you get 1 too many straws with your drink order? Save the unused straw in the glove compartment to use later, use it as a plant marker, use it as a type of splatter paint brush...etc. See? Lots of different uses for common stuff if you just put your imagination cap on and start getting creative. Enjoy the week, even if it is going to be a bit colder than it has been. Stay well, and get creative!


Carrie's Corner
By: Carrie A. Blakley
 
We all have our little quirks, and habits, and oddities. That's what makes us unique. What makes us special, and sets us apart from everyone else. That being said, we're also extremely similar. Probably more than we all would care to admit to. Remember last week, when I was mentioning that random catch-all drawer/chair/closet? That applies to every single person. Humans are quick to judge each other for what they consider to be 'strange behavior'. We all know there is a fine line between 'strange behavior' and 'straight jacket material'. Take, for example, tastes in music. There is music out there for everyone to enjoy. Some people like country music. Some people enjoy hip hop. Others may enjoy pop, or opera, or earth music. Whatever you enjoy, there is a genre of music somewhere on this planet that will appeal to you. As for myself, my taste in music ranges from Mozart to Metal.
 
The idea is that you learn to enjoy your own individuality for what it is. It's perfectly OK to be different. It's also OK to give credit where it's due. You may not like a certain person, but certainly not everything about that person is something to dislike. Sure, you  may not like their personality, or the fact that they behave in a certain manner. But, guess what? That person probably enjoys the same music you do. That person may really enjoy some of the same hobbies you enjoy. There is always a common ground to be found. Sometimes you may have to dig a bit to find that commonality, but I promise you, it's there.
 
Don't like gay marriage? Don't marry someone of your own gender. Don't like swearing? Don't swear. Don't like politics? Don't engage in the topic. Don't like rap music? Don't listen to it. It really is that simple. Do what you enjoy. Do what makes you happy. As long as you're not hurting yourself, or others around you, who cares what makes you happy? It's no one's business but your own. So, go out there and be happy. Enjoy your life. Listen to your favorite music. Wear those crazy socks. Enjoy your life. After all, it's the only one you have, may as well make the best of it, right? Remember, you're unique. Just like everyone else.