Chronicles of the #CaliforniaDrought The End


A local creek that has been dry for a long time

I wrote around 10 of these chronicles over the last two years, sort of tracking the whole experience. I really thought it was permanent. I had a moment of fear when we were told if we didn’t cut back, California could run out of water. We cut back a lot. The restrictions and warnings and increased prices resulted in a massive conservation effect. We were successful, yay!

I also was sad taking pictures of Sand Harbor because these shallow waters used to be deep enough to dive into.

Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe

You could still carefully wade out, but even that would be gone soon.

I walked in the Truckee River, the only outlet of Lake Tahoe.

Truckee River
Truckee River bed

The piers weren’t much use any more!

Lake Tahoe winter 2016


Tahoe sunset-4
These rocks aren’t really supposed to be part of Commons Beach

The gates at Fanny Bridge, the mouth of the Truckee River looked like this two years ago:


Volunteer anglers working with fisheries personnel caught the huge trout who lived there, put them in aquariums, moved them to the lake, and released them…before it was too low for them to live.

Now all 17 gates are open:

Gates open

Just like we couldn’t assume it would always be like the drought, we can’t assume it would always be like this past year, but it’s a massive relief. We now have a gravel front yard. Here’s a photo from the post when we first had it delivered a couple years ago.


We just have drip watering now.


Hope you have a nice week!

Memories of snow

We were up in the Sierra mountains during the peak of the snow. People were out taking photos, having fun and shoveling out.SONY DSC

Drought is determined by the level of snowpack in the Sierras in March. We went from a low of 58 inches of snow a couple years ago to about 48 feet of snow this year.


Winter recreation has been amazing this year, although there is such thing as too much snow to ski. The roads leading up to the ski areas were basically closed in February. Not just snow, but mud slides were to blame.

Road work on Interstate 80
Mud slide on Interstate 80 covered by plastic
Digging out
Buried Chairlift
Buried chairlift

There can be too much snow! But it’s nice to be out of the drought. We rid our property of all grass and only have drip watering to the plants we want to keep alive. We won’t put the grass back, but we have eased up on water rationing inside the house.

We still have a lot of snow in the mountains, and the ski resorts plan to stay open until July 4th, promising continued recreation into the early summer. Much fun lies ahead.

The best thing of all, Lake Tahoe is full again, and the Truckee River is flowing. Fish and wildlife will thrive, and the forest is a dark, rich green.


I — Inquiry and Chronicles of the #CaliforniaDrought

Real quick, this is how Lake Tahoe looked in March. The water was getting closer but not reaching the Truckee River.

The mouth of the river (1 of 1)

Well big news, it just flowed over its natural rim and has reached the mouth of the Truckee River.

Wow just when I was thinking I was running out of time to do my Monday post and couldn’t think of anything, but when I signed in to start a long overdue visitation round for my blogger friends, I discovered to my amazement a comment from Sheri Kennedy who writes as Kennedy J. Quinn with an invitation to do this interview, tag a few other writers, and read her amazing interview! Her answers really are good; please do yourself a favor and read through them. Sheri does everything a hundred percent, and her interview is no exception. And Sheri, thank you for reading and mentioning The Last Straw. I’ve been meaning to get that book up here on my blog, but for now, here are my answers to your great questions

  1. If you could write full time, would you? Why or why not. If you already do, would you want to change that? Why?
    I write full time now, and I wouldn’t change it, I’m so grateful every day for getting to write fiction and my blog.
  2. Tell me about your favorite character in literature. Why are they your fave?Sherlock Holmes. He is so logical. I love logic and logical characters. I’m also a huge fan of Spock in Star Trek and Seven of Nine.
  3. How long did it take you to write your first book? How long to get it published? Six years (I was working at the time, and had a lot of learning to do!) I didn’t publish it.
  4. What do you think the best books have in common? Great question! I have no idea how to answer it! But for me a book is great when I lose myself in it, when I am more in it than in my life as I bumble through the rituals of the day thinking about the book the whole time until I can return to it. I’m reading one like that now, and it brings me so much enjoyment, especially since several friends are all reading it and we are talking about it.
  5. What do you like to eat or drink while writing?Organic unsweetened almond milk (yes I actually like it), nuts, water. When I’m really on a hot streak, slide it under the door. When I’m struggling I spend most of my time at the refrigerator grazing, with the expected consequences.
  6. Did you ever have one of your characters surprise you? In what way? If no, why not?Oh, I love this question because it just happened to me for the first time in the book that is coming out this month, Third Strike’s the Charm. The hero had a secret I didn’t discover until the end of the third draft. Then I knew why I’d had so much trouble with his character. I didn’t understand Jason Ward until then.
  7. Regarding writing environment: Quiet or Noisy? Alone or With Others? Indoors or Outdoors? Hot or Cool?Okay, both, both, indoors, just right. LOL! I’m picky about temperature and light, otherwise, I’m flexible. I LOVE long plane rides. I get so much done!
  8. Regarding preferred stories: Happy or Complicated? Fantasy or Reality? Character-driven or Plot-driven? Scary or Funny? Classic or Modern?Happy, reality but a dramatic version, mix of character-driven and plot-driven, funny, modern.
  9. Tell me about your favorite character in your work in progress. What’s your favorite thing about them?Devin York is an arrogant emotionally disconnected billionaire CEO who scowls and broods which is interpreted by others as being domineering and tyrannical but is really caused by the tragic death of his wife for which he blames himself. He’s emerged as a Gothic character set in contemporary times, and I adore him. He breaks my heart, makes me angry, and makes me laugh, sometimes on the same page. I am finding I love writing these over-the-top characters and am very grateful Devin arrived in time to save my manuscript from the previous hero… who was a lox.
  10. Why do you write?If I had a choice, I wouldn’t. But I’m incredibly grateful that I can and do. What can I say? It’s a love-hate relationship, like every good romance!

Okay, enough about me! Here are my questions to any writer who happens to read this but specifically for the writers linked at the end, should they choose to participate:

  1. What is your favorite project that you have completed? Why?
  2. If you had to pick one book to read while you were stranded for a long time on a desert island, what would it be?
  3. What do you do when you get stuck with a story or article to get unstuck about the story or article and going all the way to the end?
  4. Do you ever write with pen and paper? If so, why? If not, why not? What do you like more about writing on the computer or about writing longhand?
  5. Who is your favorite character in literature?
  6. Do you believe in “muses” or inspiration? If so, how do you cultivate the inspiration?
  7. What made you want to write?
  8. Do you prefer reading or writing fiction or nonfiction? Why?
  9. What book, author (including blogger and journalist) has most influenced or inspired you?
  10. What would be your favorite place to write if you could write anywhere in the world?
    Here’s some inspiration for that thought!


John Holland

Cynthia Harrison

Robena Grant

Margaret Lynette Sharp

Ann of Anroworld

Susie Lindau

Ann Sandler

Marie Tuhart

Leanne Cole






Chronicles of the #CaliforniaDrought 10

We are on a ROLL!

From the Reno National Weather Service Facebook page:


As of January 20th: “California’s Lake Oroville reservoir has risen nearly 26 feet in the past 12 days”

“Shasta Lake came up 22 feet on pace to hit 90 percent or higher by Memorial Day.”

We’re stiDrought-1ll conserving water from hand washing, warming up the hot water and cooling off the cold. We then pour this water in the toilet tank after a flush. This practice has been building up my right arm muscles and probably core muscles too, as I lift and pour a bucket that sometimes has five gallons of water!


I spent all day yesterday working on images. Here are two that I did.

Bodie California
Bodie, a California ghost town

The third one is in my newsletter (which you can sign up for on my website if you want updates about my books, recipes, and giveaways).

What are your goals this week?

Chronicles of the #CaliforniaDrought 9

It has been raining in California. Is the drought over?

El Nino is coming through, delivering the hoped-for rain. The trees are gulping up life-giving water.

Rain in California-4 Rain in California-6 Rain in California-7


Tennis games are on hold.

Rain in California-2

Mud puddles abound.

Rain in California-1

The hills are green.

Rain in California-3

But is the drought over?

Folsom Lake in the Sacramento Valley gained 28.5 feet in one month. It is up to 25% capacity. ( That’s very good news, but…25%? We need more, but no flooding or landslides please.

Ground water is starting to rise in the Sacramento valley, too. But Tim O’Halloran, general manager of Yolo County’s Flood Control and Water Conservation District, says

“…while the recent rains have helped, many more storms are needed to make a dent in California’s four-year drought.”


The rain is helping, though!

Los Angeles County captured 3.2 billion gallons during this week’s storms as of Thursday afternoon…

San Diego collected about 800 million gallons this week at nine reservoirs as of Thursday morning, city spokesman Kurt Kidman said.

Near and very dear to this heart is Lake Tahoe. I couldn’t find how much it has risen from the recent snowfall. Perhaps it has to melt back into water before the lake will really rise. However in doing a quick search, I found an interesting site with this interesting information. There is only one outlet from Lake Tahoe, the Truckee River dam. The extreme for the period of record (which goes way back) shows 1997 as a high point:

EXTREMES FOR PERIOD OF RECORD.–Maximum discharge, 2,690 ft3/s, Jan. 2, 1997,
gage height, 9.59 ft; no flow for parts of many years.

2015 was one of those no-flow years as shown in this post I did in August, Walking in the Truckee River. So 2,690 ft3/sec to 0. What a wild ride.

Chronicles of the #CaliforniaDrought 8 and Sand Harbor

So I tried drinking less water, and it really didn’t work out that well! My lips dried out, which is a sign of dehydration, as is fatigue. *pauses to drink water* Here is the article that debunks the need for 8 glasses of water a day:

I do think this bears some thought. Anyway, I tried it, and I do feel remarkably better if I have eight gulps of water right after I wake up. Then if I have a couple more big glasses throughout the day. How about you?

I made it out to Sand Harbor today to take some photos with the dusting of snow we received. It was very cold, but pretty. Enjoy.

Lake Tahoe
Lake Tahoe
Bench overlooking Sand Harbor
Waiting for summer

Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe

Staircase at Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe
Waiting for little feet running down to the sandy beach

Staircase at Sand Harbor Lake Tahoe

I am changing my blog schedule to two times a week. I love blogging and seeing all of you, but also feel that I need to create a bit more time for writing and reading, including other blogs. So I’m going to try twice a week. I think once a week will be my minimum, but I don’t want to drop to that yet. We shall see how it goes.

Thanks so much for visiting, and have a great week.





Chronicles of the #CaliforniaDrought 7 and National Novel Writing Month

Great news! We don’t have to drink eight glasses of water a day.

That should help with the drought, not to mention that water-logged feeling that drinking way more water than we really want causes, at least for me! Plus, our water is tasting like, for lack of a better word, mud.

Even better news, it poured rain for five and a half hours here this morning. Poured. And it’s snowing in the Sierras. I hope the lake level starts to rise.

Here is the photo I sent in for Leanne Cole’s Monochrome Madness challenge this week. The subject is clouds. This is a cloudy day in Squaw Valley, which is near Lake Tahoe. I took this photo in August 2014, and just made it monochrome for the challenge.

Mountains in cloud
Squaw Valley California

The National Weather Service had a long video about the effects of El Nino, and the conclusion was inconclusive. Apparently, the warm waters off the US western coast do not guarantee a lot of precipitation, BUT, things are looking very positive with this storm. Maybe the “storm door” has opened? We received about .75 inch of rain. I think 17 is California’s normal average. With the drought it has been down around 5, so that gives you some perspective.

I can’t complain about the rain stopping right when I had to venture outside today to meet writing friends for a birthday lunch and writing session. Lucky me!

It’s National Novel Writing Month. If you are a writer, sign up. It’s awesome. For example, here’s something from the Inspiration tab:

Writing stories is hard work. Don’t let your friends or family tell you any different. From the outside, it looks like sporadic tapping on the keyboard, distracted sips of coffee, and long stares out the window. But inside, you’re wrestling demons.

Gene Luen Yang, an author and artist whose graphic novels include American Born Chinese, Boxers & Saints, and The Shadow Hero.

This is the first time I’ve officially done NaNo, signed up and everything, yet two times I’ve written 50k in November with my co-author, John Holland. (We have written a middle-grade fantasy novel and a sci-fi novel together.) So why not just sign up already? This year I did it. It’s not hard at all to sign up and figure it out, and you can have buddies. It’s fun.

Do you have any major goals that you are working on this month?

Chronicles of the #CaliforniaDrought 6

As we weather this drought, and mourn the losses, I am mostly not complaining. We have the hang of water conservation, and I continue to be a happy Californian. I’ve lived here all my life. I am one of those people who is emotionally tied to home. I do have a strong affinity for a few other places on the planet and like to visit them regularly, but my home is California.

The Truckee River is one of the things I really miss. It is, or was a source of beauty, recreation and a living for many people and a source of life for plants and animals. I hope it comes back.


Lake Tahoe has pulled far back from its shores, but is still a beloved national treasure.

Lake-Tahoe-13 Lake-Tahoe-2

I was thinking about our  water conservation efforts and the fact that we managed to meet the new quotas. I feel really good about that, and this article in the New  York Times by Charles Fishman, author of “The Big Thirst: The Secret Life and Turbulent Future of Water,” further encouraged me. The article is titled How California Is Winning the Drought. One of the author’s points shows that my prediction that population in California might stop growing or shrink to fit the water supply does not seem to be happening:

The drought has inspired no Dust Bowl-style exodus. California’s population has grown faster even as the drought has deepened.

Instead, we are tightening our belts and innovating, and our governor is helping with that. (Remember his comment that Californians have to learn to eat more veggie burgers? I thought that was hilarious.) I think we are eating more veggie burgers (and by implication, less water-intensive beef). I know I am! We found a super yummy one from Don Lee Farms. Super Food Veggie Burger

Governor Brown also said Californians are going to have to get over the idea that they have to have nice lawns. Um… yeah. We did this a couple years ago.

Here’s another encouraging quote from this awesome article.

Last fall, prodded by Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration, the California Legislature passed a sweeping groundwater law, taking California from having the least regulated groundwater in the country to being a model. The concept is simple: No community will be allowed to pump more water from the underground aquifers than can refill those aquifers — either naturally, or with human help.

The law is so innovative, it will eventually remake water use across the state, and if other states pay attention, across the nation. The law could inspire new techniques for getting rainwater to refill overtaxed aquifers.

We still need rain and snow, though.

California’s resilience is fragile. It won’t last another two years, it might not last another year.

Some towns’ wells have run dry, leaving residents having to get bottled water. Hopefully, El Nino will bring us water this year. We’ve seen a lot of unusual precipitation, storms dragged up here from the tropics, not by El Nino, but other factors. Unfortunately, they come with lightning and trigger wildfires, but there has been some rain.

Fingers are crossed throughout the state that storms will come this year. We and friends of ours are getting roof repairs done in anticipation!

Chronicles of the #Californiadrought, some interesting articles, and more Yellowstone shots

The New York Times had an interesting article about the drought that takes a look at the situation from the federal level.

Water policy experts point to dozens of changes that could be made, starting by using climate change models to plan new water-collection reservoirs. While climate change models show that there will be less snowfall in the mountains, there may still be rainfall in other regions. The bureau, they said, could build reservoirs designed to capture and store that rain.

It would be really nice to have a planet-wide and locally coordinated effort to reduce greenhouse emissions and shift people and crops as needed, pro-actively. I don’t know how much more water we can ring out of the earth for crops in California. I’m looking forward to our drive north later this month, to see Oregon and Washington. I wonder if they will be the next big states for fruits, veggies, and wine.

The first picture is Sponge Geyser. The second two are the oozy goozy (made-up word, spellchecker!) areas around Biscuit Basin. I love the colors around Biscuit Basin. I’m hoping for an artistic idea to spring to mind for something to do with these photos. Perhaps I should just start experimenting.

Sponge Geyser, Geyser Hill, Yellowstone National Park
Sponge Geyser, Geyser Hill, Yellowstone National Park
In Biscuit Basin, Yellowstone
Biscuit Basin, Yellowstone

Chronicles of the #Californiadrought

I decided to rename this series because California is not necessarily overcrowded. I’m not sure if it is or it is not. In fact, 80% of our water usage goes to farming.

We have a farm. Not quite, but my husband is a great gardener and has expanded our garden this year. We are already enjoying chard, tomatoes, and squash. We’ve decided to squeeze indoor water usage to the minimum in order to water these plants and some of our landscaping. We eliminated lawns a while ago. We will eventually find out if we made it under the allotment. You can’t really tell with water until the bill arrives. With electricity, you can look at your usage as you go along.

We have a smart meter for electricity, and today is a smart day. These days occur when the temperatures get really high, as they have today. A number of years ago, we had rolling blackouts because of a power shortage. Air conditioning on week days when businesses are cooling their buildings drives up the demand on the power grid. Voluntary reduction of power usage during these peak times helps the grid. So, it’s hot, there’s no AC, and we can use very little water. But I’m happy. I love California!

Here are the things that I enjoy about the drought and heat:

1. A sense of community. We are all in this together, finding ways to reduce water use.

2. Water use is being looked at very carefully, which was really needed.

3. A lot of sunny days. I’ve always liked California and could even imagine myself living in the desert because of the blue skies.

4. Appreciation for and awareness of water. I am aware of every drop that slides down the drain and capture as much as possible to use for other necessities.

5. With hot days I can go for a nighttime walk in shorts and a t-shirt.

Here are some photos of beautiful California:

High Sierra meadows



South bay area

San Diego


Avenue of the Giants, Humboldt California
Avenue of the Giants, Humboldt California
Lake Tahoe


Alpine Meadows

Squaw Valley
Lake Tahoe
San Francisco


San Diego