Home country: Planting for the glory of it

Like a doctor removing something important, Herb Collins gently peeled the wrapper back from the root ball and tenderly placed the baby tree in the hole. Then he stood and walked around it to see which way he should align it. Actually, looks pretty good just the way it is. So he took his bucket […]

Home country: A recumbent factotum

Windy Wilson was on the prowl, this beautiful Independence Day morning, searching the neighborhood for something to do for others. He decided to let his weekly day helping others come on the Fourth this week, because he was feeling very American. Let’s see … he thought … I can circumlocute over to Mrs. Hennessey’s and […]

Home country: Not exactly Shake Shack

On a good, warm Saturday morning, you have your choice here in our valley: yard saling or livestock saling. Since Windy didn’t need have much of a need to rummage through stacks of doilies or record albums starring Patti Page or the Kingston Trio, he headed for the sale barn. You see, Alphonse “Windy” Wilson […]

Home country: A truck-driving novel

Dud sat at the computer and went over the several hundred pages of his novel for three straight days. Then he had a cup of coffee or two with the guys down at the Mule Barn, and followed that with a walk around town. That night, when he got back from work, he kissed Anita, […]

Home country: The uncatchable trout

“What do you figure he’ll weigh now, Doc?” said Steve. Mavis topped off their cups at the philosophy counter of the Mule Barn coffee shop. “A good 3 pounds, if my guessing is any good,” Doc said, shaking his head. “Your dog?” asked Mavis. “No, Hon,” Doc said with a smile, “Ol’ Lunker, that big […]

Home country: Fly tying and love advice

“You seem kinda low this morning, Sweetie,” Marjorie said. “Business has been kinda slow for a while now, and it’s wedding season,” he said. Marvin Pincus’s “business,” of course, is free love counseling combined with free fly tying, in hopes of bringing connubial jocularity to anyone who might need it. Hey, a retired guy has […]

Rock doc: Resurrection ecology revives ancient organism

The Michael Crichton book “Jurassic Park” and the movie based on the best-seller presented what might happen if scientists were able to clone extinct dinosaurs, bringing them back to life. While nothing like that is possible at this time — a good thing when you recall the mayhem the dinos caused in the world Crichton […]

The rural life: Treating people like animals

“Rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr….” The muffled, one-note growl comes from Sadie, my Pomeranian/Chihuahua. She’s struggling not to bark. She desperately wants to (birds out the window!), but she also knows I won’t approve. We’ve been over this and, like most dogs, Sadie wants to please. She tries to understand what I want, then do it — to the […]

The weekly Daley: Another limited war?

Welcome to 2015, the first year under the new Congressional Authorization for War anywhere and everywhere it may be necessary — if the president gets his way. Having sent that request to Congress this week, we don’t know, as of yesterday, whether or not those worthies will go along with it. On one hand, if […]

Billingsley’s Bullets: Does boredom rule your life?

Look around your daily life. When was the last time newness entered your emotional world? Do you have the energy or the inclination to create newness? Do you believe you deserve an interesting or fun-filled life? • When you research American Indians’ “Rules of Life,” you will discover that they believe asking the right question […]

Good bridge plan

We are pleased to hear the city is moving ahead on installing a new Clay Street Bridge. It is discouraging how long it has taken the city to replace this bridge. The Placerville City Council has been talking about this project since at least 2006, if not longer. The city had to return more than […]

Rock doc: To feed or not to feed?

During the winter I like to feed the birds. I have a very simple arrangement for this: pouring a mix of seeds on a flat railing outside my dining room window. I regularly attract several species of small birds to the seed. Buster Brown, my mutt from the pound, has a role to play in […]

My turn: Working together for common solutions

As the incoming chair of the 15-member Tahoe Regional Planning Agency Governing Board, this promises to be a hopeful and exciting year. 2015 will be full of opportunities, but also challenges, for the continued protection of Lake Tahoe. The number one priority among our challenges is funding shortfalls. Federal and state funding that has paid […]

Good action

Our compliments to Placerville City Councilwoman Trisha Wilkins for stopping the salami slicing and moving to totally waive the traffic impact fee for the Big Brothers & Sisters’ planned new clubhouse at the corner of Green Valley Road and Mallard Lane. One speaker likened it to a school that would not pay a traffic impact […]

My turn: King Fire restoration decision

I will soon be making a decision regarding the King Fire restoration, covering 63,000 acres of public land. My job is to find and disclose a decision that balances a number of potentially competing interests. Those include timber harvesting, scientific investigation, protection of adjacent unburned forests, protection of private property, wildlife and wildlife habitat, water […]

The balancing act: Doing their homework

Jorge Santayana said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat.” It seems the El Dorado County Board of Supervisors is again guilty of violating this basic principle of leadership. At the Jan. 27 board meeting there was a small, seemingly innocuous item on the consent calendar agenda. The consent calendar is supposed to […]

Rock doc: Earth’s next epoch

I was raised in the Baptist church. As a grade school child, I memorized the books of the Bible. Maybe because of that personal history, when I started to study geology I didn’t resist memorizing the many pieces of the geologic time scale. The next to the last piece of geologic time is the Pleistocene […]

California rambling: Watchable wildlife

A famed BBC naturalist once described California (before the Mission period) as the Serengeti of North America. California’s Great Central Valley was populated with vast herds of elk and antelope. Families of ferocious grizzly bears feasted on game and salmon and steelhead that teemed in its mighty rivers. Its blue skies were filled with millions […]

Something to think about: Year of the Sheep/Goat/Ram

We are now two days into the Year of the Goat, Sheep or Ram. The lucky element for 2015 is wood; the lucky color is green and the sheep/goat is female. It’s definitely female although still uncertain whether it is a sheep, goat or ram — whatever. You apparently have choices — maybe it’s the […]

Drones over D.C.

Jan. 26 a small quadracopter drone landed on the White House grounds about 3 a.m. It may have been small and what President Obama later referred to as “the kind you buy at Radio Shack,” but it was 2 feet wide and wasn’t shot down by the Secret Service. “We don’t have any kind of […]

Belltower: So long to a hot year

At the end of each calendar year, we total up the average monthly temperatures to see what the overall average daytime and overnight temperatures for the year are. As most of you might have guessed, after the fourth driest rainfall year on record here (Jul, 1, 2013-June 30, 2014) the year was generally warm. Totaling […]

The weekly Daley: Bon appetit

North Carolina’s new Republican Senator  thinks it’s OK for restaurant employees not to wash their hands after a trip to the bathroom. As public law, he thinks it’s an infringement on liberty and anti-capitalism. If people don’t like it they will stay away from the restaurant, and the “market” will have triumphed, and the restaurant […]

The innovation gap

Europe just doesn’t get innovation. The real problem with its stagnant economy is stifling government regulation that ensures youth unemployment in the range of 25 percent because government dictates that the people who have jobs won’t lose them, thereby preventing anyone new from entering the labor market. Europe just doesn’t get that the dynamic labor market […]

The Democratic-Chronicles: The baby and the bath water

We would like to believe that our public servants (aka county administrators) always place the interests of the county above petty vindictiveness. And then they go and prove us wrong. Sure, not all of them are short-sighted and petty, but it only takes one or two, doing something really stupid, to tar the rest. I […]

Pratt good choice

We always assumed appointees to the county Planning Commission were residents of the same supervisorial district they were representing. Not so. Former Supervisor Ron Briggs’ appointee did not live in the district. Likewise, newly elected Supervisor Mike Ranalli’s appointee does not live in District 4. Dave Pratt, however, is an experienced planning commissioner. This redounds to […]

Kirkwood advances

Kirkwood ski resort, now part of Vail’s collection of ski facilities along with Heavenly, is getting a major upgrade. The resort and its meadow that straddles three counties, has replaced its diesel generators. Originally serving the lodge and a few homeowners, the generators became part of a public utility district as more vacation homes were […]

California rambling: Final Honors

While serving as a Navy Ensign in Washington, D.C., many years ago, I was assigned collateral duty as a Casualty Assistance Calls Officer. In the Navy and Marine Corps, CACOs are those military officers who, with a chaplain, must notify next of kin that a service member has died. The duty involves informing the service […]

The weekly Daley: I’m not a scientist, but…

“I’m not a scientist,” but I know that climate change is not affected by human activities. “I’ll leave that to the scientists,” to figure out whether or not humans are responsible for any amount of climate change — or that there even is climate change. “I’m not a scientist,” so I won’t comment on the […]

Billingsley’s Bullets: Want to create ageless joy?

I believe most people can create ageless joy in their lives. If you are truly seeking joy instead of despair, you will find or create sunshine instead of darkness. • When you believe joy is awaiting you, your life predictions become positive. You are not worried about an upcoming date or an interview for a […]

Salmon on Cosumnes?

It was interesting reading about a U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service salmon expert’s talk to the local trout club. The primary focus of the presentation by Donnie Ratcliff was bringing salmon to the Cosumnes River. It would be nice if we could catch salmon or steelhead in the Cosumnes River in El Dorado County or […]

Rock doc: Forensic science meets nuclear chemistry

As a kid, I read the Sherlock Holmes stories and the mysteries of Agatha Christie. As an adult, I wrote four mysteries that focused on a Quaker heroine solving crimes she happened across in her religious community. (I published them using my grandmother’s name — Irene Allen — as a pseudonym.) And, as a geologist, […]

Rock doc: Fat and the year you were born

New Year’s resolutions are being put to the harshest of tests. Gone are the days of early January when all things seemed so easily possible. Now we are in the tougher phase of the year when the will to establish new patterns is being sorely tested by the tug of old habits. One of the […]

Another cold case

Last week two out of three persons arrested in relation to a murder case dating back to 2006 were arraigned. One of the two was arrested on suspicion of murder. It’s another cold case prosecution for the District Attorney’s Office. Every single cold case this office has prosecuted has resulted in a conviction, going back […]

Innovative tribal court

Sometimes the wheels of justice all point in the same direction. That happened earlier this month when all the county’s judges were sworn in by Miwok Tribal Chairman Nick Fonseca to preside over cases involving tribal members. Conversely, a tribal judge was sworn in by Superior Court Presiding Judge Suzanne Kingsbury to preside in Superior […]

My turn: How can we make California ‘CA-boom!’ again?

Ebola, landslide elections, immigration and Ferguson have dominated the holiday season news, and those massive stories have obscured a host of other events that augur poorly for the future of California unless we act to change the way we govern this state. It’s the problems related in these stories that inspired me to write CA-Boom! […]

The balancing act: Sinking the ship of state

Like Capt. Edwin Smith of the Titanic, our Board of Supervisors didn’t heed the warnings of an impending debacle (in EDC’s case, huge deficits). Smith was advised several times of icebergs and he neither chose to slow down the speeding Titanic or change to a more southerly course. As with the Titanic, the warning signs […]

Lions Hall progresses

By now the entire roof has been removed, new trusses dropped in and new sheathing is covering them. This is the big project of ensuring the structural integrity of the Mother Lode Lions Hall, named after the late Clara Scheiber. Scheiber was a key person in what was then the Diamond Springs Community Club, which […]

Belltower: New York impressions

How we came to travel to New York on Christmas Day began a couple of months before when I read that Nathan Lane was starring in “It’s Only a Play.” Nathan Lane just lights up the stage. But the real decision point was that his last appearance in the play would be Dec. 31. As […]

My turn: Falling gas prices mask hidden tax

So why is it that while other states are now enjoying gas prices of less than $2 per gallon, California is still paying higher prices? Due to high taxes and costly regulations, our state’s gas prices are higher than other states. It’s been that way for years. But what’s new is that the gap between […]

My turn: Fishing license fee raid abandoned

In response to objections raised by the California Sportfishing League, and a massive outpouring of objections from California sportsmen and women, the Ocean Protection Council has abandoned its plan to raid California fishing and hunting licensing funds to manage Marine Protected Areas, created by the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA). This reversal shows that California’s fishing […]

The weekly Daley: State of the Union

Folks on the left generally liked President Obama’s State of the Union speech Tuesday night. Those on the right generally didn’t. Big name commentators on each side were about evenly split as could be expected. Overall, I thought it was a pretty good speech, articulate and well delivered. If it had been done for a […]

Something to think about: Stand up or stand down?

Defiance — I’m coming to like that word. For me it’s less about getting into someone’s face than it is about standing my ground— especially when someone is trying to take away my freedom and what I hold most dear. The recent terrorism in France may be thousands of miles away from us, but it […]

An outstanding group

El Dorado County opened its new animal shelter in the Diamond Springs industrial park in October. The shelter cost $5.7 million, which includes the $1.86 million purchase price of the building and land at 6435 Capitol Avenue. The construction bid by D.G. Granade Construction was $400,000 under budget. At 21,000 square feet, the building should […]

Rock doc: Better ways to clear snow and ice

As you watch the falling snow, do you marvel at the beauty of the scene or immediately dread driving to work on icy pavement? Most of our nation’s roads get at least some snow most years, and that means clearing snow and ice from pavement is big business. For highways alone, agencies in the U.S. […]

My turn: Tips for finding the right school for your child

If you’d like to send your child to a different school next year, now’s the time to start the process of researching your options. As California prepares to commemorate National School Choice Week later this month at 990 events across the state, and nearly 11,000 events nationwide, many parents will begin evaluating the educational opportunities […]