Chronicles of the #Californiadrought

We figured out how to get an interim read on our meter yesterday, so we don’t have to wait for our first bill since the restrictions started to see how effective our conservation efforts have been. We are on track!

Here is an article about California’s success in reducing residential water usage.

Our water restrictions are among the tightest in the state. Because of the way the calculation was done, our effective reduction was 70%. Well, we pretty much managed to do that, which amazed me.  (Our area, San Jose, is mentioned in the article as one of the top performers in the state.)

Like I mentioned before, we are very careful indoors so that we can use most of our allotment on plants. Here are two photos from our yard this morning.

Squash flower

This one is a little out of focus, but I wanted to show you the bumble bee who was feeding this morning.

Bumble bee in squash flower

Bumble bee in squash flower

I like that we are helping bees and humming birds with the garden and birds with the little opening in the pool cover.

Actually, we aren’t watering this particular agapanthus, which decided to grow in an invisible space between the outside patio and the screened patio. Agapanthus

Agapanthus 2

I hope you are enjoying your July so far. This is my favorite month of the year and not just because it is my birthday month. What is your favorite month of the year, and why?

Staying indoors

I should have taken a picture of these flowers sooner. They were so pretty.


Orange flowers

We were going to go for a hike today, but we had too late a start. Temperatures reached over 100 today, so I stayed indoors. We’ll walk later. Walking at night in shorts and a t-shirt seems like an impossibility in the winter. Today is a chance to prove to myself again that I really can do this in the summer.

I’m glad I remembered I can take pictures inside for those days when I don’t make it out into nature.



Castle Geyser Yellowstone National Park

Castle Geyser has the largest cone and may be the oldest of all geysers in the basin. Its eruption pattern has changed considerably throughout its recorded history. Castle is currently erupting about every 10 – 12 hours. A water eruption frequently reaches 90 feet (27m) and lasts about 20 minutes. The water phase is followed by a noisy steam phase lasting 30 – 40 minutes.


I was startled when I came upon this. I don’t research places much before I go. I like to be surprised. We approached Castle Geyser from the other side, coming uphill. The geyser was above us. The steaming white cone is so weird. I felt like I was on another planet.

Yellowstone makes you realize what the Earth is like another planet, if you look beneath the surface! As a park ranger once said, “Yellowstone is a window into the Earth.”

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



Marketing a book and something from the Yellowstone treasure trove

Today’s picture is another one from the treasure trove of Yellowstone National Park. For those of you who are not yet signed up for my newsletter, I encourage you to sign up. You can just leave a comment or click in the left frame to be taken to a sign-up form. In each newsletter, which I’ll now do quarterly, there is an original recipe and an artistic rendition of a photo, plus news.

Yesterday I spoke with a marketing consultant who encouraged me to keep doing the newsletter, though she said it was okay to drop back to quarterly. I don’t have a lot of new releases because it takes me a while to write a book. Right now my average is two books a year, and since I write in two different genres, that’s one book per year, per genre. To my relief, the marketing consultant did not consider this production rate a huge problem. But in-between, the newsletter is a place to connect with you and give you some behind-the-scenes things, maybe some writing excerpts from my work in progress, and, like I said, most importantly, an original recipe! And a pretty picture. I know you get them here, but I try to provide something even more special in the newsletter.

Why, with so much information available on the Internet, did I hire a marketing consultant for half an hour? Well, there’s a lot of advice out there, and I found myself overwhelmed.  I was concerned that I was wasting time and money, and that there were more effective places to concentrate both of these precious resources. I was correct about their being higher-leveraged ways to concentrate my resources, but I was also validated in what I’m doing from a social media standpoint. This validation encourages me to keep up the work.

A half-hour consultation with a marketing expert was remarkably effective. I could not believe how much I was able to pack in. She took a look at my website, my blog, my Facebook page, and my Goodreads account while we were talking. She also answered about 40 questions. The consultant, Rebecca Berus, not only is a trained marketing specialist, she has a background in the publishing industry, at a publisher and an agency. I provide this name as a help; I’m not getting anything from Rebecca. I just thought this post begged the question, Who was the consultant?

Okay, here is today’s photo. I call it Red Biscuit, but I don’t know why. It’s actually yellow. I think it was an effect of my sunglasses. I guess I’ll call it Yellow Biscuit, now that I’m home wearing computer glasses.  (The photo was taken in Biscuit Basin.)


Yellow Biscuit, Biscuit Basin, Yellowstone National Park